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AUTHOR OF "the VIPER OF MILAN," "THE GLEN O' WEEPING,'
"l WILL MAINTAIN," ETC.
E. P. BUTTON AND COMPANY
31 WEST TWENTY-THIRD STREET
WltLTAM OLOITKS AND SONS, LIMrTm
LONDON AND BKCCLES
I. The King's Son 1
II. A Biography 23
III. A Poor Spanish Lodging 35
IV. Defeat 59
V. Twilight 80
VI. The Camp outside Namcr 93
VII. The Polandee 113
VIII. The Extraordinary Story of Grace Endicott . 135
IX. The Cup of Chicory Water 153
X. The Burning of the Vanities .... 180
XI. A Woman of the People 202
XII. The Aristocrat 225
XIII. The Betrothed oi Pedko el Justicak . . . 249
XIV. The Macedonian Groom 260
XV. The Prisoner 273
XVI. The Yellow Intaglio 301
THE KING'S SON
" This letter has given rise to various conjeotures," — Dalrymple'a
From Ringwood, the 9th of July, 1685.
Having had some proof of your kindness
when I was last at Whitehall, makes me hope now
that you will not refuse interceding for me with
the King, being I know, though too late, how I
have been misled ; were I not clearly convinced
of that, I would rather die a thousand deaths than
say what I do. I writ yesterday to the King, and
the chief business of my letter was to desire to
speak to him, /or I have that to say to him tJiat I
am sure will set him at quiet for ever. I am sure
the whole study of my hfe shall hereafter be how
to serve him ; and / am sure that which I can do
is worth more than taking my life away ; and I am
confident, if I may be so happy to speak to him,
he will himself be convinced of it, being I can give
him such infallible froof of my truth to him that,
though I would alter, it would not be in my power to
do it. This which I have now said, I hope will
be enough to encourage your lordship to show me
your favour, which I do earnestly desire of you
and hope that you have so much generosity as
not to refuse it. I hope, my lord, and I make no
doubt of it, that you will not have cause to repent
having saved my life, which I am sure you can do
a great deal in if you please ; being it obliges me
to be entirely yours, which I shall ever be, as long
as I have life.
For the Earl of Rochester, Lord High Treasurer
Knowing that I had been involved in the
miserable final adventure of that unhappy Prince,
James Scot, Duke of Monmouth, and even been
with him in that last Council in Bridgewater, my
lord Eochester showed me this letter with a kind
of languid malice, and even had the indecency to
smile at it and address to me a remark shghting
to the unfortunate writer of that desperate
" For," said he, " had Monmouth a secret to
reveal, though ever so base a one, he had disclosed
it to save his life — and since he disclosed nothing
'tis proof plain this was but a fool's trick to catch
He said no more, but I was minded to tell
what I knew that I might do justice to the memory
of one wronged and wretched ; yet the impulse
was but passing, for I knew that the secret his
THE KING'S SON
dead Grace had never discovered was one which
for pity's sake I must be silent on ; and well I
was aware also that what I could say would awaken
no understanding in the cold heart of Lawrence
Hyde. My Lord's Grace of Monmouth has been
dead ten years, and in the potent and huge events
that have changed Europe since, he has been
forgotten by all but some of those poor souls in
the West who called him King. But I, who joined
fortunes with him in his reckless enterprise, hold
often in my thoughts him whose fate is now reckoned
but a trifle in the history of nations. Both in the
exile that followed Sedgemoor and the years in
England under His present Protestant Majesty
have I considered silently the tragic mystery of
this young man whose life was useless pleasure
and whose death was bitter anguish.
It hath a curious sound that I, once penman
to his Grace, should now be secretary to the Earl
of Rochester ; I gave my master this reflection,
and he laughed in his indolent fashion and answered
that ten years had accomplished the work of a
hundred, and that the rebellion in the West was
ancient history. Yet when he had left me to
my work I copied this same letter (written in a
quick hand with the agony of the author showing
in that forceful entreaty to one who had never
been his friend), and I brought the copy home
with me and now must write under it the explana-
tion like the key to a cipher. Not to show any,
but rather to bury or destroy ; not to betray the
secret of the dead, but to ease mine own heart of
one scene which has haunted me these long ten
It hath a turn of folly to write what will never
be read, but the impulse driving me is stronger
than reason, and so I make confession of what I
know while holding my faith inviolate.
At the time of the capture of my lord in '85,
the indecent cruelty of the then King in seeing
one whom he had resolved to be bitterly avenged
on, and in commanding to be published an account
of those agonies he should have been most sedulous
to veil, w^as much commented upon, and first gave
his people the impression of that ill- judging severity
of character and stern harshness of temper they
soon found unendurably galling.
It was well known too at that time, that my
lord had obtained that interview with the King
by reason of the desperate letter he wrote, of the
same trend as the epistle he sent to my lord
Rochester, declaring he had somewhat of such
importance to reveal that it should put the King's
mind at rest for ever concerning him. Various
were the rumours abroad concerning this secret
and what it might be, and as it was known from
the King's lips that his Grace had revealed nothing,
many supposed, as my lord Rochester, that it was
but a feint to obtain an audience of his Majesty ;
yet how any could read those letters and not see
they were inspired by the bitter truth, I know
not. Some believed that it was that his Grace
had been urged to his fatal undertaking by His
present Majesty, then Stadtholder of the United
THE KING'S SON
Provinces, and that he had about him letters from
that Prince's favourite, Monsieur Bentinck.
Yet all evidence was against this, and the Duke
himself appealed to the Stadtholder to bear witness
that he had no designs against England when he
left The Hague, but intended for Hungary (for
which purpose, indeed, the Prince equipped him)
and had since been misled by the restless spirit of
the Earl of Argyll and other malcontents whom
he met, to his undoing, in Brussels.
More believed that the disclosure related to
that subtle designing minister, the Earl of Sunder-
land, who was deep in the councils of the King's
enemies, yet held his Majesty in such a fascination
that no breath against him was credited, even at
the last, when he ruined the King easily with a
graceful dexterity that deceived even Monsieur
Barillon, who is esteemed for his astuteness.
Yet what reason had my lord Sunderland,
intent on far larger schemes, to lure my lord
Monmouth into a disastrous expedition, and what
object had his Grace in keeping a final silence
about such treachery ?
Nor would the revelation of the falsehood of
his Majesty's minister or the discovery of the dis-
simulation of his Majesty's nephew be such a secret
as his Grace indicated in his letter — " for I have
that to say to him which I am sure will set him at
quiet for ever " — whereas either of these com-
munications would rather have set King and
Kingdom at great trouble and dis-ease.
No one came near the truth in their guesses,
and after a while no one troubled, and truly it
is an empty matter now ; still, one that containeth
a centre of such tragic interest that for me the
wonder and pity of it never dieth.
To bring myself back to the events of that
fatal year (the recollection groweth as I write),
it shall here be noted that I was witness of the
great and bitter reluctance of my lord to lead
He was brave in his spirit, but of an exceeding
modesty and softness in his temper, of a sweet
disposition, averse to offend, fearful of hardship,
a passionate lover of life, generously weak to the
importunities of others.
Yet for a great while he withstood them,
avoided Argyll, shut his doors to Lord Grey and
Ferguson and was all for retirement with the lady
whom he truly loved, Harriet Wentworth.
But from Love for whom he would put by these
temptations came the goad to urge him into the
arms of Ambition, and she, who in her pride
would see him set on a throne, joined her entreaties
to the arguments of the men who needed a King's
son for their leader, and pawned the very jewels
in her ears to buy him arms. And he was pre-
vailed upon to undertake this sad and bitter
voyage with but a few adventurers whose much
enthusiasm must take the place of money and
wits, for of these last they had neither. At first
his Grace's heart utterly misgave him and he was
more despondent than any man had ever known
him, being indeed in a black and bitter mood,
THE KING'S SON
reluctant to speak on anything but Brussels and
my lady waiting there.
This brought him into some discredit with his
followers, but Ferguson had spirit enough to inspire
the ignorant, and Lord Grey, who, though a man
dishonoured in private and public life, was of a
quick moving wit and an affable carriage, ani-
mated the little company of us, not above a hundred,
who had joined together on this doleful enterprise.
But when we had landed on the rocky shores
of Lyme Eegis, it was his Grace whose mood
became cheerful, for his ready sensibility was
moved by the extraordinary and deep welcome
these people of the West gave us, for, whereas
we who were at first, as I have said, but a hundred,
in a few days were six thousand, all hot on an
encounter and confident ; truly it was marvellous
to see how these people loved his Grace and how
he was at the very height of joyous exaltation in
this fair successful opening.
Taunton saw a day of triumph when his Grace
was proclaimed King in the market-place by a
mad speech of Ferguson in which wild and horrible
crimes were laid to the charge of James Stewart,
and I think Monmouth saw himself King indeed,
at Whitehall, so gracious and gay was his bearing.
But my lord Grey looked cynically, for not a
single person of any consideration had joined us,
and, while the gentry held back, ill-aimed and
untrained peasants were of no use to us. Yet had
his Grace done better to trust their fanatical
valour and march on for Bristol and so take that
wealthy town, instead of spending his time en-
deavouring to train his men — God knows he was
no general, though a brave soldier in his services
in the Low Countries !
While he dalHed, my lord Beaufort was raising
the trained bands, and my lord Feversham came
down from London with some of the King's troops.
Then came that attempt of my lord Grey on Brid-
port when he forsook his men and fled ; though
this was proved cowardice, his Grace was too soft
to even reprimand him.
In miserable searching for food, in vain strag-
gling marches, in hesitations, in fatal delays the
time passed ; his Grace might have had Bristol,
a place abounding in his own friends ; yet, hearing
that the Duke of Beaufort had threatened to fire
it rather than open the gates, he turned towards
Bath, saying he could not endure to bring disaster
on so fair a city.
This faint-hearted gentleness was not fitted for
the position he had assumed ; at Bath they killed
his herald and returned a fierce defiance. So we
fell back on Frome in disorder ; and my lord saw
his visions melting, his dream of Kingship vanish,
for in the same day he received three pieces of
news : that the three Dutch regiments had landed
at Gravesend, that my lord Argyll was a prisoner,
and that my lord Feversham was marching upon
him with three thousand men and thirty pieces
And now the full utter madness of what he had
undertaken was apparent ; we had neither cannon
THE KING'S SON
nor arms, scarcely powder ; and he who had seen
the fine armies of Holland and France could not
but see the hopeless position he held with a force
of these poor peasants, the cavalry mounted on
cart and plough horses, the foot but armed with
scythes and pruning-knives. Despair and dismay
gained an audience of his mind ; he fell suddenly
into agonies of fear and remorse for what he must
bring on these followers of his ; from every one
who came near him he asked advice, and the
anguish of his spirit was visible in his altered
countenance. He called councils in which nothing
was resolved but the desperate state they were
in, and nothing talked of but the folly that had
put them there ; his Grace passionately blaming
Ferguson and Argyll for their evil urgings. Then
it was resolved to retreat on Bridgewater to be
nearer the sea ; on this march some few left his
Grace, but most stayed in a dogged love, and
this faith touched his tender heart as much as
his own danger, and wrought such a passion of
weak agony in him it was piteous to see the
expression of it in his face.
At Bridgewater he viewed the enemy through
his glasses from the top of the church tower ;
there and then, I think, he knew that he gazed
on a country he must soon for ever leave.
Alas ! alas ! In my nostrils is still the scent
of that July afternoon, the perfume from the
slumbrous grasses, the scent of the peaceful
flowers. . . .
That day we had a very splendid sunset;
all the west was gold and violet and the whole
sky clear of clouds, yet over the morass below the
castle the marsh fog lay cold and thick, for lately
it had rained heavily and the Parret had over-
flowed its banks, so the whole earth was wet —
very clearly I recall all details of that day.
Here I come to that picture that is for ever
with me — the last Council of my lord. Had I the
skill of some of those Hollanders whom I have
seen abroad, who can limn a scene just to the Ufe,
I could give this scene on canvas with every colour
It was a room in the Castle, not large, looking
on to the garden ; through the open window
showed that emblazoned sunset, and a rose and
vine leaf entwined against the mullions.
The panelHng of the chamber was darkened
and polished, above the mantelpiece was a painting
of a stone vase of striped and gaudy tulips, very
like, and there were logs ready on the hearth, for
the evenings were chilly. On the floor was a
little carpet of Persia, and in the centre a table
with stools set about it, all of a heavy, rather
ancient design. A little brass clock with a mighty
pendulum stood against the wall on a bracket ;
on the table were two branched candlesticks,
clumsy and shining.
There were gathered the rebel officers, talking
themselves into a boastful confidence ; the only
man of quality among them, my lord Grey, stood
a Httle apart beside the open window — and smiled ;
he was a curious man, not well-favoured, but one
THE KING'S SON
whom it was pleasant to look upon, tall and dark,
with that little fault in the eyes that casteth them
crooked. My office was an idle one, for there was
nothing to write, so I watched the others and felt
chilled at the heart for the hopelessness of it all.
When the dusk gathered, my lord Grey drew
the curtains across the rising mists and lit the
When the last flame rose up, Monmouth entered
quietly : he ever had a light step.
Marred as he then was by his inward misery,
he was still the loveliest gentleman in England and
of a winning beauty impossible to be realised by
those who have not seen him ; he wore a riding
coat of brown cloth and a black hat with a penache
of white plumes, being more plainly dressed than
ever he had been before, I think, in all his easy
They all rose when he entered, but he motioned
them to their seats again, and I saw that he had
not the firmness to command his voice to speak.
He took the place they had left for him, and Lord
Grey, shading the candle flame from his eyes,
stared at him with that crossed glance of his and
that immovable expression of amusement on his
lips. For a while they spoke together, to cover,
as I took it, this dismal discomposure on the part
of their leader.
But presently he took off his hat impatiently,
showing his long soft hair of that Enghsh-coloured
brown and his eyes, of the tint of a chestnut,
that usually shone with so bright a light, and
leaning a little forward in his chair he broke into
" I cannot go on," he said. " I will not go
on — there is nothing ahead but ruin."
At these words that so stript the poor pretence
of hope from their councils, these officers sat
revealed as fearful and stricken men. They looked
at Monmouth as one who would be the mouth-
piece of their own terrors ; my lord Grey with-
drew himself a little from them and went to stand
by the mantelshelf, from there observing all.
The red came into the Duke's face and he eyed
" What are we going on ? " he said. " We are
not such fools as to think we can prevail now. . . .
I saw Dumbarton's Scots yonder on Sedgemoor.
... I know how they can fight . . . they were
under me at Bothwell Brig. ..." He pressed his
handkerchief to his lips and he was trembling
like a sick maid.
They saw in his eyes that he considered them,
as the play saith, on " the edge of doom," and as
he had given them leave for ignoble thoughts, so
each took advantage of it and bethought him of
his own sad condition.
'' We have but a rabble," said one. " And
there is yet a chance to get over seas "
" I cannot fall into the hands of James Stewart,"
muttered Monmouth ; " for I have done that which
cannot be forgiven." And there was such pusil-
lanimous fear in his wretched look of shivered
dread that it passed like a panic through all that
THE KING'S SON
they too had done what could not be forgiven ;
nor was James Stewart a merciful man. One
voiced the general terror :
*' We could get to the coast before any guessed
we had left Bridgewater — in flight lies our only
Then my lord Grey made this speech.
" There are six thousand people have left their
homes to follow you — would you, my lord, abandon
them to that fate ye cannot face yourself ? "
Monmouth looked at him ; maybe he thought
it strange that the man that had been a proved
coward under fire should speak so intrepidly in the
council, yet he was too unnerved for a retort or
" Oh, you," added Lord Grey, with a flick of a
scorn in his tone, " who took the title of a King, and
are a King's son, cannot you make a more seemly
show of it than this ? "
"It is my life," said the Duke in a piteous
agitation. " Five thousand pounds on my head
... to die as Russell did ..."
" You are a King's son," repeated Lord Grey.
In a desperate passion his Grace answered him.
" Why did you induce me to this folly ? It was
you, that villain Ferguson and Argyll "
" He has paid," said the other quickly.
" As I must pay. . . . My God, was I not
happy in Brabant ? You but wanted my name
to gild your desperation "
" We would have made you King," said Lord
Grey, and he smiled a Httle.
There fell a silence, and it seemed that the
Duke would speak, but he said no words.
" Come, gentlemen," spoke out my lord Grey.
" The Council is over — you will have your orders
before morning — all expedients are ineffectual ;
now each, in his own way, must go forward to the
end." He took up the candle to light them from
the room, and they, being men of a little station,
were overawed by his quality and went ; two of
them deserted that night, and one betrayed us
by firing a pistol to warn Lord Feversham of our
approach and so got the King's pardon. God be
merciful to the others ; I think they died unknown
I, being trusted because there was a price on
my head and I had borne the tortm-e in Scotland,
was asked by Lord Grey to stay and help hearten
We endeavoured to reason him into going into
Castle Field, where Ferguson preached to the
miners and ploughmen ; he would not, but in a
weak agony abused Wildman and Argyll as the
engines of his torture, and he had the look on him
we call " fey " ; I believed he was near his
death. . . .
So the night fell very misty and warm, and my
lord would not He down, but sat in that little room
strugghng with anguish.
He had his George of diamonds on and often
looked at it and spoke incoherently of how King
Charles had given it him . . . surely my pity was
more provoked than my scorn, for he was soft
THE KING'S SON
and gentle in his ways and so had gained much
That morning one had complained to him Lord
Grey should be dishonoured for his behaviour
without Bridport — and he had answered : "1
will not affront my lord by any mention of his
misfortune — " yet here was he sunk in utter
misery while Lord Grey strove to rouse in him a
manly and decent courage with which to be worthy
of these poor brave souls who loved and followed
him ; presently he came round to his old and first
" Remember you are a King's son."
It was near one in the morning by the little
brass clock, and I sat wearily by the door that led
to the bedchamber ; the Duke was at the table,
and as my lord Grey spoke he looked up and
began laughing. He laughed so long and reck-
lessly that we were both dumb in a kind of horror,
and when at last he came to a pause in his laughter
there was silence.
Now the Duke discovered some fortitude : he
rose and helped himself to wine, which brought
the fugitive blood back into his cheeks and he
held himself with more dignity, though there was
that wild look of unsettled wits in his wide-opened
" My lord," he said, " and you, sir — bring the
candles nearer and I will show you something "
He put pack the admired locks that screened his
brow and took from the pocket of his inner coat a
leather book that he laid on the table before us.
" Wksit is this ? " asked my lord Grey.
The Duke untied the covers in quiet and let
fall on the pohshed wood all manner of odd and
foolish papers, letters, complexion wash recipes,
charms and notes of his journeyings in Holland.
These he put aside and drew from a secret
lining a silver case such as is used for a painting
It was my thought that it contained the picture
of Lady Harriet, which we were to return to her
if either Hved to do it, and I was sorry for this
lady who had been so faithful in her love.
From one to the other of us the Duke looked
strangely ; his face was flushed now and beautiful
as in former days when he was the loved one of
that great brilliance at Whitehall, yet still he had
the seal of death on him, and, worse than that, the
horrible fear of it writ in every Hne of his comely
" Please you, look here," he said ; he opened
the locket and held it out in his palm.
" What is this ? " he asked in a husk and torn
It was the Hkeness of a man, very fairly done,
who wore a uniform and cravat of the time of the
death of King Charles I.
Lord Grey looked at it quickly.
" It is your Grace," he said ; then, seeing the
dress — " No," he added, and glanced swiftly at
Monmouth — " who is it ? "
"It is Colonel Sidney taken in his youth," I
said, for I had known the man well in Kotterdam
THE KING^S SON
when he was attached to the court of the late
King Charles, then in exile there. And I gazed
at the painting ... it was a marvellous fair
While I looked my lord Duke had three letters
out from the same secret corner of his book, and
I saw that two were in the writing of Colonel
Sidney and the third in a hand I did not know,
the hand of an ill- educated woman.
" Who is this ? " asked Lord Grey with an
amazed look. " Surely Colonel Sidney was never
any concern of your Grace ? "
He stood with the picture in his hand and
Monmouth looked up at him from the old worn and
folded letters he was smoothing out.
" It is Colonel Sidney," he said.
" Well ? " asked Lord Grey intently.
" He was my father," said Monmouth ; then
he began laughing again, and it had the most
doleful sound of anything I have ever heard. I
could not grasp what had been said, but my lord
Grey with his quick comprehension seemed in a
moment to understand and value this truth.
" Your father ! " he said softly, and added :
" To think we never saw it ! " which was an
extraordinary thing to say ; yet, on looking at
the Hkeness in little and on the fair agonised face
staring across the candlelight one might notice
that they were in almost every detail the same,
and methought I was a very fool never to have
observed before how these two men were ahke,
even to little manners and fashions of speech.
And being that I saw the tragic pitifuhiess of
it all, I could do no more than laugh dismally also.
" See you these letters if you want proof," said
" There is no need," answered my lord Grey.
" The hkeness is enough." Then he repeated :
" And we never saw it ! "
" No," said his Grace half-fiercely ; " you
never saw it — I was always the King's son to you
— instead of that I am scarce a gentleman. . . .
Now you know why I cannot go on. ... I am
no Stewart, I have no royal blood. ..."
Grey looked at him, turning over in his mind,
I think, the aspects of this bewildering turn ;
he gazed at Colonel Sidney's son with a curiosity
I was thinking of the obscurity from which
he had sprung, the mystery round his early years
in Rotterdam, his sudden appearance in a blaze
of glory at Whitehall when the King had made
him Duke. . . .
" Who did this ? " I asked. '' And who kept
silence ? "
" King Charles loved me as his son," he answered
vaguely, '" and I loved him. ... I could not have
told him — and I was ambitious. What would you
have done ? " he cried. *' I did not know until I
was fourteen." He pressed his hand to his breast.
" But I will not die for it," he muttered. " Why
should I die for it 1 "
" Your death must become your life, not your
birth," said Lord Grey.
THE KING'S SON
" My death ! " shivered Monmouth.
Lord Grey turned to face him ; thin and harsh-
featm:ed as he was, he made the other's beauty a
thing of nothing.
" Why ? " he said commandingly. " You know
that you must die — you know what will happen
to-morrow and what you have to expect from
James Stewart, and those honours that you have
won in life will you not keep to grace your death ? "
" I cannot die," answered Monmouth ; he rose
and began walking about in a quick passion of
protesting anguish : "I will not die."
" That you cannot decide ; the manner only
is in your power," said Lord Grey calmly, and I
marvelled to think that he had been a coward in
*' I am not the King's son " his Grace cried
out at him, and fell across a chair sick with un-
availing love of life.
Lord Grey took up a candle and turned to the
door, looking at him the while.
'' Will you give James Stewart this triumph ? "
This seemed the one thing to brace Monmouth,
for those two had always hated each other strongly ;
James in the old days had feared my lord's power,
been jealous that he was the elder son of the
elder son, and Monmouth seemed to remember
that ; yet a mean thought hurried on the heels
of the manly reflection.
" He would give me my life for this," he said
v»Takly. " My life for this secret "
*' Good night," said Lord Grey — a strange
man — and left us.
The Duke seemed not to know that he had gone
or that I remained ; after a Httle he went into the
bedchamber, but not to sleep, and all night I heard
him weeping . . . such sick and bitter womanish
sobs all through that long watch I kept. . . .
Colonel Sidney's son !
Who were they who did this — and they who
kept silence ?
A curious commingling of motives, sordid and
lovable, ambition, some Httle love, some touch
of self-sacrifice. ... I felt compassion for King
Charles, who had had no deeper feeling in all his
spoilt Hfe than this affection for what was not his. . . .
I put the wasting candles out and sat in the
dark ; I lifted the curtain and saw the sun rise
Six thousand men to fight against hopeless odds
to-morrow for him they deemed a King, the blood
of Bourbon and Stewart, the heir of Tudor and
Plantagenet. . . .
And in my ears was the thick sobbing of a
mere Englishman of a stock that scarce boasted
gentihty, who could not face the end of his mas-
querade nor fit the robe of greatness he had
So here is the secret revealed at length to the
dumb and innocent paper ; God knoweth it is, as
Lawrence Hyde saith, a great while ago ; for the
rest, the world knows how the Duke rode out to
THE KING'S SON
Sedgemoor with such a look in his face the very
children knew he was marked for doom, and how
he fled, leaving his men to gain great honour after
he had forsaken them. Also how he was found
in peasant's dress, so changed they did not know
him till the George of diamonds flashed out on
his tattered garments as he fainted in his captor's
clutch. Lord Grey was taken with him ; they
stayed at Ringwood two days and from there
his Grace wrote frantically to the King and to
It is very clear he meant to buy his life with
his wretched secret, though I think my lord Grey
must have been ever urging him to die with a
So they brought him to London and he was
taken before his Majesty, swordless and with his
hands tied behind him.
What passed no man knoweth but James
Stewart ; he has spoken often of it, and I know
those to whom he has told of Monmouth's ignoble
desperate pleadings for life at any cost, of his
casting himself down and imploring mercy.
Yet he must have been spurred by something
in the demeanour of his ancient enemy, for he
never told his secret, and he left the presence with
anger and dignity, resolving, it must be, to cheat
the King of that last satisfaction. Yet afterwards
he fell again into unmanly misery that was the
wonder of all, and then into a strange mood that
was neither the apathy of despair, or, as some said,
an exalted enthusiasm. I wondered then and now
where his proofs were : not found on him with the
other poor trifles I had seen at Bridgewater Castle
— destroyed, perhaps. And so he died, hurried
reluctant from life, without either religion or re-
pentance, sorry for the blood shed in the West,
firm in his love for Lady Harriet, indifferent to
the clergyman who cried out on the scaffold :
" God accept your imperfect repentance ! "
He would not join in the prayer for the King ;
when they goaded him he said " Amen " wdth a
Knowing as I do what bitter terror he felt,
what ghastly anticipations he had, what agony
he had endured at the thought of the sheer moment
of death, with what shivering sickness he felt the
axe, with what horror he eyed the headsman, I can-
not bear to write or think how they mangled him. . . .
And so he died ; he brought much misery on
the innocent and he was maybe a worthless man,
yet I could weep for him even now. I am glad
he did not speak ; Lord Grey has been ever silent
and no one else knows.
:|« H: ^ 4: ^ Hi
Among all those who watched that fair-haired
head held up it is strange there is not one to think
it showed little likeness to the dark-browed Stewart
Kings. . . .
Here the paper is endorsed in another hand :
" If this be truth then this was a thing ironical.
The wTiter of this rambling manuscript and the Earl
of Tankerville, once Lord Grey, are dead, and there
be none that know save God who knows and judges."
The Earl of Strafford
" Certainly never any man acted such a part, in such a theatre,
with more wisdom, constancy and eloquence, with greater reason,
judgment and temper, and with a better grace in all his words and
gestures, than this great and excellent person did." — Whiteloch on
the trial of Strafford.
This was a man who in Lis own time was great
and fell to dishonoured death, leaving a brilliant
memory, but one neither respected nor praised ;
a King raised him, used him and forsook him, a
people judged him, condemned him, and put him
to death. Great events followed ; the nation
shook and changed. The King himself was swept
away by that same power to which he had in
vain sacrificed his minister, a greater than the
King ruled England and men forgot the Earl of
Strafford save to execrate his policies.
But they who come home crowned with laurel
from the wars the popular heroes of an hour are
not always the only saviours of their country,
and they who flatter the people do not always
serve them best. History is a hard, often an
unreflective, judge ; her verdict, dictated by the
passion of a moment, lasts too often for centuries.
Judging a man by his inner spirit, his desires,
the use he makes of great abilities, pitying a man
for his misfortunes, his bitter death, those English
born may well give a little gratitude to this EngUsh-
man who had ever England in his heart.
Thomas Wentworth was of an ancient and
noble family of Yorkshire, powerful by intellect,
Puritan by tradition, strong by courage and self-
belief, above all things deeply desirous of rendering
that service to his country which is the way that
most readily appeals to a man of an active com-
plexion of satisfying that almost unconscious
yearning for glory that is the sign of a great spirit.
Mere personal ambition is a proof of either mean-
ness or madness, and the self-seeking of either
insanity or vanity has never attained any but a
brittle fame and a hollow achievement ; if a man
is to even contemplate the performance of mighty
deeds, he must have some mightiness within him.
Strong enthusiasm, unless it be of the head-
long useless kind, is ever joined to that tincture
of melancholy which comes from viewing the
contrasting apathy of the rest of mankind, and
for the first years of his opening understanding
Thomas Wentworth was silent, reserved in matters
poHtical, given to reflect and observe more than
to speak or act.
He had the usual education of a gentleman,
studied at Cambridge, travelled in Europe, became
Sir Thomas and member for Yorkshire before he
was twenty- one.
It was the beginning of the power of parha-
ments, the beginning of that temper in the people
which was to later furnish the extraordinary
spectacle of a nation ruling its own kings and
retaining a monarchy as a mere ornament to
that independence which displayed undisguised
is likely to be too stern an object to please
a people full of levity and love of show. This
party was represented by the Opposition that had
galled and restricted the first Charles since his
accession ; he, however, rather disliked than
feared them, and did not doubt that his authority
would quell their republican principles.
With these men, among whom was John
Pym and afterwards a nobler patriot, John Hamp-
den, Sir Thomas took his seat ; he went not into
extremes against the court, but conducted himself
moderately ; he became Gustos Rotulorum for the
West Biding ; presently the king was advised to
make him Sheriff of York that he might be dis-
qualified as a Parliamentary candidate ; next he
was imprisoned for refusing to pay a forced loan im-
posed by Charles ; it seemed that he was committed
beyond withdrawal to the Opposition, daily more
daring ; and that he was to be one of that band
of men, firm willed and single minded, who dis-
covered in an absolute monarchy a menace to the
general good ; but Wentworth did not see with
them ; tradition was strong in him, his imagina-
tion glorified loyalty ; he saw in the king an
instrument for procuring the greatness of the
people ; he saw a crisis approaching, a struggle
drawing nearer, he chose his side, knowing perhaps
that it was bound to lose, but seeing at least a
chance for his own dormant abilities to strengthen
and exalt a weakening institution. In 1628 the
Duke of Buckingham was stabbed to the heart
by one of those Puritans who were resolved that all
pertaining to Kingship was fatal to their country's
peace, and in that year Thomas Wentworth took
the place of the murdered favourite and became,
with Laud of Canterbury, chief adviser to the
It was supposed by his former friends that he
had covered himself with immortal infamy by
his desertion of the popular party for that of the
court, and their censure has been often echoed,
it being assumed that because the cause he espoased
was unsuccessful he wasted his genius in serving
it ; but in 1628 Sir Thomas may have hoped to
make England as great as did Cromwell after-
wards, and there was no prophet to tell him his
judgment was deceived.
A personal friendship rose between him and
the stately, formal King with whose traits he had
much in common. Charles, grateful to the genius
that took the place of Buckingham's careless
talents, created him in one year baron, viscount,
and Lord President of the Council of the North.
The Puritan party viewed his rise with pecuhar
hatred ; so hard is it for even just men to stifle
the claims of party and see any good in that cause
w^hich is not their own.
" You have left us," said John Pym, " but we
will not leave you while your head is on your
In 1633 Wentworth was made Lord Deputy of
Ireland, and endeavoured to reduce order into that
vexed and discontented country by measures
which were abused as despotic, but which were
necessary to a man occupied with great schemes.
England could never be a great empire while
Ireland was an independent kingdom ; his claim
of Connaught only anticipated the inevitable, and
if the army he was so abused for raising could have
been kept together under his direction, the crown
of England might have been saved. As far as
time permitted, he introduced social benefits into
the wretched land and encouraged the linen
industry by planting flax.
But he was too late, perhaps too impetuous,
blinded by his own genius for command into
overlooking the steady rise of the democracy ;
he himself described his policy as " thorough."
Had he been allowed the time, he would have made
a notable thing of this policy ; but the tide was
against him, and bore him sharply out to ruin.
Private mahce, not his own faults, brought
about his downfall, and he was thrown by a misuse
of the law as wanton as any tyranny that could be
brought against him. In 1639 John Pym carried
out his threat and impeached him of high treason ;
Wentworth, newly created Lord Strafford, was com-
mitted to the Tower, and the outward disgrace
and real glory of the man began.
It was one of the most memorable of all state
trials, and lacked no element of the tragic, the
strange, the terrible, or the dramatic.
The prisoner was he who for over ten years
had been the greatest man in the three kingdoms ;
the principal accuser was one who had been the
closest friend of the man he accused ; the judges
were eighty peers of the realm, the witnesses the
two Houses. A King who loved and a Queen who
hated the accused were present. The prisoner
conducted his own defence, and outside beyond
the doors of Westminster Hall the first murmurs
of the growing civil war were beginning to rise
Sir Anthony Van Dyck painted Lord Strafford
as a dark, handsome man of a robust type dictating
to his secretary ; the picture shows a personality
such as is in accordance with what we know of the
man, and when looking at the proud, half-frowning
face it is easy to imagine how he stood during
his trial, pale, composed, erect, scornful of them,
seeing very surely the axe ahead, having no trust
save in the sad- eyed King at whose ear the Bourbon
Queen whispered hatred of him, yet using all his
magnificence of eloquence to save himself as one
who is conscious that his life is worth defending.
Thirteen accusers, who reheved each other,
plied him with questions for seventeen days, and
he answered them all with unshaken judgment,
calm and grace, unaided, unpitied. John Pym's
hatred spurred his enemies on, and Lord Strafford
must have tasted the bitterest of all humiliation
when he looked to where sat his friend Charles
Stewart, not daring to Hft a hand to save him —
and he had hoped to make his King great indeed.
The man on trial for his hfe and honours and
the King in his regal seat exchanged many a deep
look across the commoners who were the masters
of both — " he trusts me, and I am helpless " was
like a dagger in the heart of Charles.
By his side always sat the Queen, Mary of France,
black-eyed, small, in satin and pearls, ready with
her hand on his wrist, her voice in his ear : "Do
not rouse the people — let Strafford go "
She had always hated him ; she hated any
who endeavoured to share her dominion over her
husband ; she began, too, to be afraid of the
people, and as she was of the blood royal of France,
a breed that could not understand concession, she
and her priests urged the King into further tyran-
nical measures ; first, let Strafford go : he had
devised the unpopular laws ; if his death would
appease the people, let them glut in his blood
and keep their complaints from the ear of his
So the Queen ; but the King loved Strafford,
who had served him to this end of ruin, and when
he looked across at the dauntless figure pleading
his cause to ears deaf with prejudice, he vowed in
his heart that his minister should not die, and
cursed the barking commoners v/ho forced him
there to witness the humiliation of this his faithful
The genius of one man was triumphant over
the malice of many. Strafford argued away every
charge raised against him. A bill of attainder
was then brought forward, hurried on, and passed
on April 26tli, a week after he had closed his
The King, desperate and seeing his own throne
shaking, yet had the resolution to refuse his assent ;
he had promised his protection to Strafford and
would not give way.
The whole nation rose to demand the blood
of Thomas Wentworth ; Laud was already in
the Tower, the Puritan party dominant ; the fallen
minister had no friend save the King.
His ambitious, lofty, and reserved spirit tasted
great agony while he waited through the long
days of early spring, tramping his chamber in
the Tower — he who had hoped to make England
great — and here was England howling for his life
and honours . . . here was John Pym and his
fanatic followers triumphant.
" What is left ? Can the great spirit rise to the
great crisis ? Having proudly lived, can I proudly
die ? Can I still serve England — now ? "
The King was firm, and public feeling rose to a
panic of excitement. Revolution was on the point
of shaking the very palace. The Queen, with a
baseness doubly vile in a woman, used her arts to
wrest death from Strafford for her husband, vowed
with tears to flee to France. The Bishop of Lincoln
urged that the needs and desires of the nation
were more than a mere private promise.
But the King was firm ; he would not sign the
death warrant of Strafford.
Then the Queen, potent for mischief, wrought
on the King, since he was obstinate on that point,
to save his servant by violent means. The dis-
tracted Charles took her fatal advice and en-
deavoured to seize the Tower of London by force
by means of the troops lately raised by the Queen.
This attempt on the keys of the kingdom threw
the nation, already in a ferment, into a tumult of
wrath and fear, and Lord Strafford was lost.
The wildfire of party zeal inflamed men into
believing anything desperate of the King ; thrice
the members of the House of Commons fled on a
cracking of the floor, thinking they had trod again
over gunpowder as in the former reign. There
was nothing too monstrous to be stated, nor too
extravagant to be believed.
But the King would not sign the death warrant
of his friend and servant ; he was supported by
the Bishop of London, who bade him listen to
his conscience rather than to the fierce demands
of party. Amid all the press of turning strife
one man was calm — the prisoner in the Tower
who saw every day how he had failed in his scheme
of government and how he had been the means of
embroihng the King with the people instead of
establishing a great man over a great nation and
making a light in Europe of Charles Stewart.
Of all bitter failures, what can be more bitter
than that of a great statesman who hugely stakes
and hugely loses beyond redemption, beyond hope ?
The proud dark-faced man who had stood so high
and dreamt so daringly had his vigils of anguish
during those long May days and nights in the old
Tower already darkened with noble blood and the
memory of splendid sufferers. He had lost every-
thing but his life, and that hung on the promise of
the King. My lord did not doubt that his master
would keep that promise ; but what was mere life
to a man who only valued existence as it meant
use, power, achievement ?
He who had given the King and England his
best now gave all left to him. On one of those
awakening days of spring, when even in the Tower
there were trees bursting into leaf, glimpses of
cloud-flecked blue, bars of sunshine across the cold
walls and sounds from the wide river of music
and merry-making, Lord Strafford wrote to the
King, asking, for the sake of the peace of England,
to be left to his fate.
In these words he concluded his noble letter :
" My consent will more acquit you to God than all
the world can do besides. To you I can resign the
life of this world with all imaginable cheerfulness."
The Kmg gave way, but with no abatement of
his anguish, since he justly felt that such a request
was but another reason for him to keep his word.
He could not, when he had consented, sign the
warrant himself, so this was done by four lords, and
he sent a message entreating mercy of the peers,
or at least a delay ; but there was no pity in England
for Lord Strafford, nor for the King.
The worst half of the tragedy was his ; he
never forgot nor shook his conscience free of what
he had done. When he came to his own agony
and bent his sad head to the block he looked at
Juxon, that same bishop who had been advocate
for Strafford, and said, '' Remember," and it was
believed that the terrible whisper referred to the
forsaken friend who had died the same death eight
At the moment he fell into a kind of apathy
in the midst of the rejoicing faction who had their
way at last.
Lord Strafford prepared for death ; he was in
the full vigour of life, of a worldly temper, proud
and ambitious ; the warm days were full of the
keen joy of life. He tasted to the utmost the
sharpness of the struggle between flesh and spirit.
When he heard from the written paper the actual
words of the King formally condemning him he
was for a moment broken with emotion and over-
come at thought of the friendship that had failed
so miserably ; he, beloved of the King, was to
die an attainted man, a death humiliating and
shameful, branded as a traitor.
He struggled to control his haughty spirit, to
subdue the flesh that clung to lovely life, but always
before his eyes were the ripening green, the sweet
early weather, the sounds from the river, and it
was not easy.
The execution was hurried on ; on the 12th of
May he went to his death in black satins like the
great gentleman he was ; as he left the gate Arch-
bishop Laud, his one-time coadjutor, now his
fellow-prisoner, met him, and he went on his knee
to receive the blessing of one who was to so quickly
follow him to the scaffold, then on between his
guards silent and scornful like the leader of them
all, while on his face were the low-breathed air
and the early sunshine, and in his ears the calls
of the birds and the swish of the river rippling
hurriedly under the fortress walls.
Many men have died for England in many ways,
none under circumstances more difficult and bitter
than this proud man who sank to rest upon the
block that May day while his sick, haunted King
waited in the great palace for the awful news of
A POOR SPANISH LODGING
Philip Wharton, Duke op Wharton
"The scorn and wonder of his age." — Alexander Po'pe.
A YOUNG man sat at a wooden table in a small,
His hands were in his pockets and his head smik
on his breast, his legs outstretched before him.
A miserable bed, covered with a dirty blanket,
occupied one corner of the room, above it being a
gaunt and poorly carved crucifix.
The floor, walls and ceiling were lath, plaster
and worn wood, all soiled, smoked and crumbling.
The one small window was covered with a
thick pane of discoloured glass that could not
open ; some portmanteaux stood beneath and a
On the table was a coarse glass stained with
lees of wine, a loaf of bread, an hour-glass and a
The flies turned in and out of the glass, clustered
round the loaf and hung in clouds about the
Outside the sun, at its full height and strength,
blazed at white heat, and a bar of vivid hght
streamed through the smeared glass and fell in a
pool of gold on the dirty floor near to the young
man, who appeared to be dozing, so still did he sit
and so level was his breathing.
He was humbly dressed in a travelling coat
that was much worn, though of a good cloth and
fashionable cut, a frayed blue silk waistcoat,
black breeches, boots to his knees, and a coat of
grey tabinet, all much used and soiled.
At his side was a light sword, and round his
throat a neckcloth of fine Venetian lace, carelessly
His hair hung untidily down his back and
forward over his face ; it was a charming chestnut-
brown colour and very thick. Presently he
stretched himself and raised his head without
removing his hands from his breeches pockets.
He glanced round the room, and it would have
been impossible to discover from his expression
whether the squalor of his surroundings moved
him to disgust or no.
His face was unusually handsome, of a high-
born and rakish type, but ravaged in a ghastly
fashion by want and illness. The contour and
pose of youth remained, but all bloom, freshness
and colour had gone ; his person seemed to have
seen as much hard service as his clothes and to
have suffered more.
From the lines on his brow and at the corners
of his remarkably beautiful mouth it might have
been supposed that he was in pain, but his expres-
sion was calm and his large hazel eyes serene.
The flies circled the room and beat at the window
A POOR SPANISH LODGING
with a monotonous persistency ; the sun burnt
up the already foul air and heated the room almost
unbearably. The young man rose, displaying a
figure no more than the middle height, but of a
graceful, well-trained manliness, and walked un-
steadily to the window.
As he moved he felt his own weakness and
caught his breath with a quick exclamation.
For years he had been warned that he was
kilKng himself as he had been warned that he was
ruining himself. The last had occurred ; he had
been ruined in fame and fortune, and it seemed
as if the first prophecy would be justified also.
Two nights ago he had ridden from one town to
another ; six hours in the rain and the chill that
had followed had greatly increased the vague
illness that had been for the last two years threaten-
ing his life.
He had always been as reckless of his health
as of all the other great gifts he had once been
blessed with, and he was paying toll now, a penniless
exile, bankrupt in everything.
He could see nothing from the window, the
blaze of the sun was too strong on the white Spanish
The flies droned in his ears, and they were the
He closed his eyes, for the dazzle of sunshine
made him feel giddy.
" Gad," he murmured, " one could do with a
few drops of rain — a cloud at least."
He began to be conscious of a great thirst ;
there was no water in the brown earthenware jug
standing in the corner, he knew. Languidly, but
with the well-schooled and now unconscious grace
of the man of fashion who is used to move with a
thousand eyes watching every detail of his dress
and deportment, the young EngHshman crossed
the room, unlatched the door and went slowly
down the dark, steep and dirty stairs.
He came directly into a large picturesque room
that gave by a tall open door on to the street.
It was a kind of general hall or kitchen, the
smooth black beams of the ceiling hung with rows
of onions and herbs, all manner of pots and pans
about the huge open hearth, a window at the
back looking on to the garden, and in a dusky
corner an empty cradle and a spinning wheel.
The young man went to the shelf where the
thick green glasses stood, took one down and
dipped it into the red-glazed pitcher that stood
beneath. The bubble of the water sounded
pleasantly ; he raised the dripping glass and
drank with a grateful air.
He was glad of the cool shadows and of the
intense quiet ; every one seemed abroad ; it was
autumn and he supposed they were at work in
There was an old rush-bottomed chair near the
black-carved supports of the door ; he seated
himself with his back to the sunhght in the deserted
street, and his eyes on the window the other side
of the room that gave an exquisite ghmpse of a
fig-tree drooping in the shadowed garden, and
A POOR SPANISH LODGING
beyond a glossy myrtle, glittering in distant
sunbeams. The young man knew that he had not
long to live, both from ordinary signs and fore-
warnings and the sure inner instinct his keen
intelligence was quick to notice and regard.
He was absolutely without fear ; he had never
had any credence in any religion or any belief,
even vague, in a future state of existence, nor had,
like many, tried to invent these feelings for him-
self or supply their place with superstitions and
He had never needed these lures to gild his life
with promise, always he had found the moment
sufficient, and whatever the moment demanded,
in wealth, honour, talent, charm or health, he
had given lavishly, not unthinkingly, for he had
always known that a price would be demanded,
as he had seen it demanded from others of his kind.
And he was prepared to pay.
A long life did not attract him ; all the pleasures
he valued were pleasures that could not with
dignity be enjoyed when youth was past ; his own
sparkling wit had often made a butt of an old rake,
or an elderly prodigal ; he had never intended to
join the ranks of those people who had outworn
A poet whom he had patronised had called
him " The scorn and wonder of the age ; " but
from his own point of view his life had been the
very steady following of a very simple philosophy.
Caring for nothing but the world, that he
regarded as the golden apple hung above the head
of every youth to ignore or gain, he had bought
the world, with money, with charm, with honour,
with talent, with beauty and strength and exulted
in it and sated himself — and he did not complain
of the bargain. He never complained of anything ;
his sweet, good humour was held by many to
condone his villainies as the grace with which
he took his final fall almost justified the acts
which had led to that fall. When his political
levity, his social extravagances, his dissipations
had finally left him without health or money,
he had taken the verdict of the doctors, the curses
of his creditors and the flight of his friends with
the same gentle smile, and, urged by his ardent
love of the world to make life an adventure to
the last, had disappeared from London, where
he was so dazzling and infamous a figure, to die
abroad, in the sun and among scenes that
by their freshness and simplicity disguised, at
least to a stranger's eyes, the sharpness of their
poverty. So he, by birth an English Marquis,
by patent of the Pretender a Duke, son of a famous
man and himself the most renowned rake in
London, even among a set that included Viscount
Bolingbroke, stayed his obscure wanderings at a
poor inn in an unknown Spanish village and
prepared himself for death among the peasants
of a strange land.
He regretted nothing, not the splendid chances
he had thrown away, not the fine name he had
tarnished, not the great talents he had wasted,
not the life he had sapped and used up before
A POOR SPANISH LODGING
its time. He admitted no sins, he claimed no
virtues and he beHeved in no judgment.
God he considered a polite myth, invented to
frighten human weaknesses, the devil a fable to
excuse man's breakage of his own laws ; he had
never paid the least regard to either ; never, in
any moment of disappointment or sickness, had
he felt any touch of remorse, of regret or fear.
If he had been given his life over again he
would have again used it for the same extravagances,
the same folHes, the same short brilliant flare.
As he sat now, looking at the distant fig-tree
and myrtle, he was thinking of his past life without
compunction, though every incident that rose to
his memory was connected with some broken
promise, some shameless deception, some ruined
heart, some wanton, dishonourable action.
The one thing he had been faithful to (beyond
his own Epicurean creed) was the code of a gentle-
man, as interpreted by the society in which he
moved. It was a curious code, inherited, not
learnt, an instinct more than a quahty only re-
motely connected with the chivalry from which
it had sprung.
The Duke would have found this code difficult
to define ; he called it honour, but it was only a
kind of flourishing likeness of honour.
Its laws were simple, mainly these : never be
afraid ; never chaffer with money nor earn it in
any way, nor mingle in trade ; never play false
in your games or your bets ; always be courteous
to your inferiors and to women ; never take
insolence from any one, even the King ; seek out
danger and the company of your equals ; never
take up money once you have put it down ; smile
when you win and laugh when you lose ; never
speak of your loves nor toast an actress at your
My lord had never broken these laws : he
did not put this to his credit ; he took them as
naturally as clean linen and neat table manners,
but perhaps in the casting up of his worthless life
they might be set against the black length of his
wicked record, as some poor palliative. There
was something else my lord could claim, a personal
quality this and peculiar to himself : he was
tender to animals and anything weak that came
He could not have turned a step aside to seek
out the poor or miserable, but when they crossed
his path he was lavish.
And no bird or beast had ever suffered through
him ; he had never lent the brilliance of his
presence to any baiting or cock-fighting or bull-
This, too, might be set to my lord's account,
but there was little else.
Yet he was lovable ; he had always been
People who knew him and scorned him still
cared for him ; he had been caressed by Charles
Edward in genuine affection and liked by King
George. Perhaps because he was so utterly soul-
less and made no pretence of being other than
A POOR SPANISH LODGING
he was, because he was so entirely frank in his
passionate capacity for happiness, in his beautiful
gaiety he attracted those who were themselves
divided in their aims and too timid to crown
their own vices as he crowned his, for his fascina-
tion was more than merely physical and the
attraction of exquisite manners.
He was lovable now ; even after his long
exile from the splendours of St. James, even in
his worn clothes, even marred by illness and
weariness, he carried with him something that
was wholly pleasing, not in the least suggestive
of the shameful, unlovely things with which his
name was branded.
He was reviewing the final adventure of his
life with no changed sense of values, no blurred
The near presence of death did not alter his
opinion in one jot on any particular nor confuse
his estimate nor awaken new feeling ; he must
have satisfied, in some way, the purposes for which
he had been born, to be so serene, so content on
the eve of the complete end.
All his senses were absolutely clear, even
more exquisite than usual ; even more perhaps
than ever did he appreciate the beauties of Hght
and colour and scent, the delicacies of sound, of
touch, yet his mean and unbeautiful surroundings
did not trouble him ; compared to what they
might have been they were well enough. It was
better to die in a poor Spanish lodging than in
the Fleet, or a garret in Whitefriars, or some
kinsman's back room ; nay, better this than the
Tower and the panoply of death some chill morning
on the scaffold.
He would perhaps have preferred an active
death in some duel, but he made no complaint
that this had not been the end ordained for
He was grateful that he was going to die in the
Leaning back easily in the old willow-wand
chair, he began to compose some verses — some of
those witty cynical lines for which he had been
famous in London and which amused him to
Presently his sensitive ears detected a light
sound, a sweet and familiar sound, the play of a
woman's skirt against her ankles and the floor.
He broke off his mental composition and turned
his head towards the shadowy depths of the room
that lay between him and the window at which
he had been gazing.
From out these darknesses a figure emerged
from a mysterious door that opened and shut on
farther recesses of blackness, moved into the
clearer shadows and finally into the full light.
It was a woman, young and notable, who
appeared not to notice that there was any one
in the room, for she stood in a watchful, motionless
pose, gazing up the dark staircase from which
the Duke had descended.
Her dress was fantastic and charming, a tight
blue satin bodice gleamed round her slender
A POOR SPANISH LODGING
waist, and beneath it panniers of pink gauze bil-
lowed over her hips and were looped away from a
white petticoat trimmed with blue jet that
glimmered even when she stood still.
Round the bottom of this petticoat was a
garland of pink roses, her stockings, that showed
well above her ankles, were blue, her shoes white,
heelless and fastened in with embroidered pink
On one arm she carried a pale yellow cloak
and a black velvet mask ; over her wide shoulders
was flung, carelessly, but gracefully, a white silk
scarf with a deep fringe border.
Her dusky brown hair was slightly powdered
and gathered on the top of her small head by a
huge tortoiseshell comb set with red coral, long
blue jet earrings quivered in her ears, and she
wore a necklace of fine pearls.
The Duke noticed these things and the delicacy
and grace of the woman herself, the poise of her
head, the straight lines of her profile, the fineness
of her hands and ankles, the richness of her locks,
the dark sweep of her eyebrows and the dusky
bloom on her round cheek.
He also knew her dress to be that of a dancer
or ballerina, despite the blue brocade train that
dragged a couple of yards behind her.
What or who she was he did not care, nor how
she came to be in this poor inn dressed in this
He was pleased to see again one of the pretty
creatures who had always been to him the most
entrancing and beautiful objects in an entrancing
and beautiful world.
He watched the gentle vision with interest
and tenderness, making no movement or sound.
Suddenly she turned full on him her dark
face that, although it was too broad for per-
fect beauty, was piquant and glowing with fine
The Duke rose and bowed.
" I am Philip Wharton, Seiiora," he said in
She advanced towards him.
" I thought you were upstairs," she said
Her voice was delicate, but her speech had the
peasant accent of Andalusia.
" Were you watching for me ? " he asked
"Yes," she said. "For who else? Why
should I come back after this long time save to
see you 1 Yesterday I was here," she added,
" but you would not see me."
" Pardon me, I was ill yesterday and did not
She gazed at him with soft, luminous and
" Have I seen you before ? " asked the Duke,
endeavouring to place her among the many women
who had flitted across his life.
" I used to dance," she answered, " at the
opera in Venice."
He did not remember her. How could he
A POOR SPANISH LODGING
recall one face from out the whirl of joy and gaiety
he had known in Venice 1
" You are Spanish ? " he asked.
" From Andalusia. And you are Enghsh 1 "
" And dying 1 "
" Ah, you know as much as that, do you 1 "
*' I know many things now."
" Ah, wisdom ! " he mocked. " I could wager
your knowledge begins and ends with the Hst
of your victims and triumphs. How did you
come here ? " he asked abruptly.
'' I ran away."
" To this place ? "
'' It was but a stage on the road."
" You know me ? " he asked.
" Yes ; I have met you at Paris, at Vienna,
at Eome and Naples."
" By gad," he said, " you flatter me by your
He began to notice that she never smiled, and
it displeased him ; he disliked a grave woman.
" What is your name ? " he asked in the tone
of a master, and sank back into the chair, for
indeed he felt very weak.
She shook her head.
" I have so many."
" Give me one."
She bent her eyes on him earnestly.
" What was the name of your first love ? "
" I have forgotten."
" What was the name of the woman you loved
the most ? "
Fair faces rose before him, tearful faces, plead-
ing faces, angry faces — he could not choose between
'' I do not know," he said faintly.
She glanced round the room as if she, too, saw
the faces that had risen so clearly before his mental
" You were not kind or loyal to one of them,"
Philip Wharton laughed.
*' Tell me your name," he insisted.
" You have forgotten it, and you do not know
it," she returned quickly. " Once I was called
Helen, but that was a long time ago."
He looked at her curiously.
" Tell me about yourself," he said, " and how
you come to be here alone."
She put her hands behind her back ; the mantle
trailed over her train and her fragile dress glimmered
in the shade.
*' It was after the opera at Versailles," she
began. " I was dressed for the ballet and was
leaving my dressing-room, when they put a cloak
over my head and carried me out to a coach — we
drove all night to the house of an English lord
in the Rue de Vaugirard "
She stepped suddenly and noiselessly behind
A POOR SPANISH LODGING
-as I was descending from the coacli they
put a handkerchief over my eyes, so-
PhiHp Wharton felt a scrap of mushn flung
over his head and drawn tight over his eyes,
leaving him in pleasant darkness.
*' and one led me by the hand, thus "
Her fingers touched his ; he smiled passively
beneath the bandage.
" and took me into the presence of my
lord, who had betted a thousand guineas that I
should ride in his cabriolet through Paris. But
it was not very long before he was tired of me."
She loosened the handkerchief and withdrew
Phihp Wharton opened his eyes on cool shade,
a room hung with raised crimson and white velvet
and furnished in a very stately style.
An arched marble window looked on to a blue
canal on which the rays of the setting sun sparkled,
and in the seat of this window, that was piled with
cushions, a lady sat ; she wore a great hooped skirt,
fluttering with sarcenet ribbons, and in her red-
gold locks drooped a red rose.
" As I was saying," she said in a matter-of-fact
tone, *' you very soon got tired of me."
" Carina, no," answered the Duke. " I have
always been in love with you and Venice."
" You went away. It was the day of the
Carnival. I was then wearing an orange cloak
with a fringe. It was exactly five days since I
had met you. But you cared for me more than
for any woman you met in Venice."
" I love you now," said Philip Wharton,
" for I have come back to you when I am dying."
She looked at him gravely and stepped out of
the window on to the balcony.
" Will you come once more in my gondola ? "
He followed her.
Light steps led from the balcony to the Canal,
where a gay gondola cushioned in sapphire blue
The lady stepped in and the Duke after her ;
the gonddier sped the light boat forward between
*' This has always been a pleasant memory to
me," he said.
She sat erect with a fan of curled white ostrich
to lips and looked at him over the feather tips.
" The night you went away," she said, " my
husband hired three bravos. I was crossing the
bridge when I met them — this bridge "
Suddenly the Rialto was over them ; the
gondola had shot from blue and gold into darkness.
'' They thought I was coming to meet you.
My husband "
The boat stopped in the blackness ; he felt, though
he could not see, the lady rise and step out.
Her hand touched his, and blindly following
the guidance of it, he stepped ashore, and felt a
step beneath his feet ; the firm clasp on his wrist
drew him through a doorway.
" My husband is coming back to-morrow," the
voice continued. ''Oh, Phihp, I am afraid ! "
A POOR SPANISH LODGING
He put his free hand to his sword.
" That is fooHsh of you," he said. " I am here."
" But you have begun to cease to care," her
voice wailed, " and you will go away."
As she spoke a door opened to her right, and
she released his wrist ; he followed her into a
little boudoir charmingly hung with straw-
The Duke remembered it very well ; he turned
to the woman.
She was now a pale blonde wrapped in an em-
broidered mob and wearing dazzling little silver
Her face was tear-stained and her eyes pleading.
" Paris was terrible after you left," she said.
" Why did you go ? You tired so soon."
" You have remarked that," he returned,
" twice, I think, before."
She began to cry.
" Do not you love me any more, Philip ? "
" I have come back to you," he answered ;
" but my head is rather confused. And, Madame,
you are spoiling your complexion with these tears."
" Hush ! " she cried.
She ran to the dainty hangings that concealed
the door, raised them, and listened.
" Some one is coming ! "
She hastened back to him and half dragged,
half pushed him to a secret door ; as she touched
a spring it flew open, and he stepped with a laugh
into the concealment of a dark secret room that
was filled with a bitter, pungent perfume. He
closed his eyes ; there was a heaviness in his
head ; he could not tell how long he had been
closed in when the sliding panel was drawn.
" It was a false alarm after all," said the
Her black hair hung dishevelled on her brocade
gown, her hollow face was pale and her eyes stormy.
" Did you say that you must leave Bois-le-Duc
to-morrow ? " she demanded hoarsely.
She held a candle in a pewter stick in her
right hand and her left clasped her dress together
over her palpitating bosom.
" The Prince gave me leave to return to Eng-
land," he answered.
He stepped from his concealment into a room
with polished walls, furnished heavily and well.
'' You would not betray him after he has given
you a Dukedom — you would not forsake me ? "
she asked anxiously.
" Do you not trust me ? " he asked lightly.
" Oh yes, I trusted you. But you went away."
" Always the same ! " he exclaimed im-
patiently. " Have I not been faithful to return
to you now ? "
She began to laugh.
"Faithful!" she cried. "Faithful!"
He laughed too, and the echo was long and
He went to the door and opened it on dark
stairs ; without looking back he descended.
The first landing blazed with the Hght of a
thousand candles ; a magnificent doorway with
A POOR SPANISH LODGING
portals flung wide invited him into a gorgeous
ballroom, where splendidly dressed people moved
to and fro to the melody of violin and harp.
Philip Wharton entered ; in a little alcove to
his right he found the woman waiting for him.
The diamonds sparkled red and blue as if her
flesh was on fire ; her powdered locks were piled
high, and the billows of her violet dress spread
wide on the settee where she sat.
"Faithful!" she cried. "Faithful! And
you are leaving Vienna to-morrow ! "
He seated himself on the small portion of the
brocade her spreading skirts had left uncovered.
His nostrils distended to drink in the perfumed
air, and his eyes sparkled ; his whole spirit became
animated in the congenial atmosphere of a court —
a luxurious court.
" And I must really die and leave all this,"
He looked at the lady and smiled ; but her
face was very grave.
" Let us walk once more in the garden," she
said, and rose and opened a glass door in the alcove
that led into a garden that was very prettily lit
by coloured lanterns. She took the Duke's arm,
and they passed along the prim paths between
avenues of clipped limes and box bushes.
For some while she did not speak ; then she
"It is strange to see you at Kensington again,
my lord." Her voice sounded as if it was full
of tears. " Strange to think that you must leave
again so soon."
She pressed close to his side now, for she no
longer wore a hoop ; a quilted hood and cloak
concealed her head and figure, and he thought that
she must wear jasmine somewhere on her person,
so strong was the scent of that blossom on the air.
" I wonder," she continued, " if, when you come
to die, you will ever think of these moments — the
broken promises, the broken hearts ? "
" When I come to die," repeated the Duke
musingly, " I shall no doubt think of you and your
" Not of me and my sadness ? "
Phihp Wharton did not answer ; he smiled
into the darkness, which he perceived was beginning
to be lightened by the first delicate sparkle of dawn.
" Have you ever done one good action ? "
continued the voice at his side.
" Oh, Madame ! "
" Or shed one tear — one tear for another ?
One tear to heal all the wickedness you have
committed — all the grief you have caused ? "
" Never ! " he answered. '' Never ! "
" Is there no memory you can recall that would
soften you to tears now ? " ^^
He answered " None."
Her hand slackened on his arm and was with-
drawn ; in the confusion of the lifting shadows
and the spreading milky whiteness of the new
day he lost her^
He was alone in the garden. No, not a garden ;
A POOR SPANISH LODGING
it was soon light enough to see, and he then noticed
that he was walking in an English field in early
Before him a meadow sloped to a fence that
enclosed a little wood ; bluebells, daffodils, and
primroses grew under the branches of the trees ;
the meadow was starred all over with buttercups
To one side of the fence was a small thatched
cottage behind which the sun was rising, and
where the distance merged into the early blue
vapour the sharp spire of a church rose.
A slight, very sHght, feeling of apprehension
came over Philip Wharton.
" I do not wish to come back here," he said.
" This has all been a dream, and I will wake up
Yet he walked on.
It was absolutely still ; though the sun had
now risen clear of the mists and was glittering
in a clear heaven, there was no one abroad.
The Duke approached the cottage, saying to
" I know this place, and I do not wish to see
Before the wooden gate of the tiny garden he
A few modest flowers were growing in neat
beds — pinks, wallflowers, and sweet williams ;
beside the closed door was a lavender bush.
The Duke's sensation of dread deepened. He
noticed that a white blind hung behind each of
the four windows. He felt that he was there
against his will. Peaceful and lovely as the scene
was, it was one from which he would willingly
He left the garden and wandered away into
the little wood and seated himself under a pine
tree and took his head in his hands.
And as he sat there he heard the church bell
" I am not going," he said to himself, and for a
while he was resolute and would not move ; yet
presently he rose and went back to the cottage.
The door was half open now.
He pushed wide the garden gate and entered ;
he was acutely conscious of the scent of the simple
flowers and the tolHng of the bell.
Without knocking he entered.
Two men were in the narrow passage carrying
before them a coffin.
Philip Wharton found himself face to face
with it ; it was held upright, and the name-plate
was near his eyes. He read, " Aged nineteen."
He heard a woman sobbing in the room into
which the cofhn was being taken, and he peered
through the crack of the door.
On a humble bed lay the wasted form of a young
girl from which the soul had recently departed.
Philip Wharton passed out of the house, out
of the garden, and down the meadow.
" I am sorry," he said ; he had never smcerely
spoken those words before.
He walked till he came to the church, and then
A POOR SPANISH LODGING
he entered the graveyard, and seated himself on
an old sunken tomb and watched the poor funeral
procession that presently wound through the
When they had all left and he was again alone,
he walked down the sloping churchyard path
and looked at the new-made grave.
A simple headstone was already in place ; it
bore no name, but only the date and the words —
" A broken and a contrite heart, Lord, Thou
wilt not despise."
PhiHp Wharton put bis hand before his eyes ;
he felt sorry and afraid.
All the women who had ever loved him seemed
to lie buried in that humble grave. Love itself,
compact of a thousand graces, a thousand trans-
ports, which had been made manifest to him under
so many different shapes, in so many climes,
seemed to have fallen and died at last and to lie
buried here with Lucy. . . .
He took his hand from his eyes and saw about
him the poor Spanish lodging, the distant window
with the fig and myrtle from which the sun had
now departed. He sat up shivering.
" What dreams ! " he muttered. " What dreams ! "
He found his eyes wet with tears ; he rose and
held on to the back of the chair. For one awful
moment he believed in God. Then he shook off
" She died as I must die," he said. " Why not ? "
A chill had fallen with the setting of the sun.
He shivered again, and found that his limbs were
stiff beneath him ; he pushed the dark hair back
from his face and gazed before him, trying to
conjm:e the figure of the dancer in the pink gauze
and blue jet out of the encroaching shadows.
But he knew that it was useless, that she was
dead and buried with all those other women.
And death had him by the throat, was struggling
with him even now, and he must prepare himself
to go down into the darkness that enveloped them.
He went upstairs to the room he called his
own ; as he opened the door of it he heard steps
below, and leaning over the rails saw the old woman
who owned the inn enter with a basket of grapes
on her grey head.
The young Duke blew her a kiss ; she was the
last woman whom he would ever see. He entered
his room ; the flies still buzzed round the stale bread
and dirty glass, but the golden pool of sunHght
had gone from the floor.
" Not one of those women," reflected Philip
Wharton, " ever thought that I should die —
like this ! "
So saying the young rake seated himself heavily
and wearily in his former seat by the table and
stretched out his hand for his pipe which lay next
But before he touched it, he felt a slight cold
touch on his shoulder, and thought he heard
some one behind him.
As he turned to look he drew a long breath.
" Why, Lucy " he said, and on that word —
Edward Plant agenet, Prince of Wales, Duke of
Cornwall, Earl of Chester, Lord of Biscay and
Uridales, rested at Bordeaux with his brother
Johan of Gaunt, Duke of Acquitaine and Lancaster,
Earl of Derby, Lincoln and Leicester, Seneschal
of England and the English army.
Edward of Wales had saved his word ; he
could not save Acquitaine.
He had redeemed the oath sworn before the
high God that the treacherous Limoges should
pay for its disloyalty. The town lay now a
burnmg ruin ; in one day three thousand men,
women, and children had atoned with their blood
for the falsity of Jean le Cros, Bishop of Limoges.
For Edward had sworn by his father's soul to
wipe out every life in Limoges. Chained and
bare-headed the Bishop had been brought before
the Prince, and had only been spared by the inter-
cession of Johan of Gaunt, for Edward had vowed
by God and St. George that the arch traitor should
Yet at this he stayed his hand and came to
Bordeaux, carried in a litter, his vengeance satisfied
but his chivalry stained by the innocent blood of
churls, an unhappy knight, ill at ease in mind and
body, without money for his men-at-arms, with
Acquitaine slipping from him. East and south
and north the French were advancing, and he
had no means to stay them.
This was great bitterness for one who had been
the pattern of knighthood in Europe, who was a
King's son and the hero of the English. So he
came to Bordeaux, where his family waited him
in a castle above which the Leopards floated, and
saw the ships in the harbour waiting to carry him
back to England. At Cognac he had delegated his
powers and his offices to his brother, and Johan of
Gaunt had taken up the almost hopeless task ;
but he was ambitious, a famous knight, eager to
play a great part among the Princes of Europe,
also in his full health and lusty ; but Edward
wasted from day to day. After the feverish fury
of the attack on Limoges and the ferocity of his
vengeance, he fell deeper into his sickness and
brooded bitterly in his mind.
When he had halted at Lormont a messenger
had ridden up to meet him with word from the
Princess, Jehanne of Kent. She had her two
children with her, and one, the elder, was sick.
Edward said no word to this message, and so
they carried him, a silent knight, into the castle.
All gaiety, all joy, all splendour of chivalry
and deeds of arms, all the brightness of glory and
bliss of youth seemed overclouded now.
Edward the King was old, Edward the Prince
was sick and defeated, Philip pa the Queen was dead,
and English chivalry was smirched by the massacre
And the ships waited to take ingloriously home
the proudest knight in Europe to rest his limbs in
the Savoy and presently his bones in St. Peter's
Church at the Abbey near Westminster. When
he came to the castle he asked after his little son
They carried him to a room overlooking the
Bay of Biscay that lay placid beneath a pale
October sky, and laid him on a couch by the
window ; and he asked again for his son.
Immediately the Princess Jehanne, his wife,
entered the room and came to his side, and in
silence went on her knees beside him.
" Ah, joli coeur / " he said, and raised his
weary eyes and took her long face between his
hands and gazed down into it.
" What happened at Limoges ? " she asked,
without a word of greeting or duty.
His hands fell to his sides and his worn counten-
" I kept my word," he muttered.
Tears came into the eyes of Jehanne of Kent.
" I would you had been foresworn, seigneur,"
she answered, " for the hand of God is against us."
" In what way ? " asked Edward.
" In your sickness," she said, " for, certes, I
perceive you very weak — and in the illness of the
" Help me up," answered the Prince, " that I
may go to him."
He raised himself to a sitting posture and put
his feet to the ground ; his simple dull red robe
flowed round him unbroken by a jewel, his dark
thin face had the look of a man weary of himself.
With her arm round his shoulder Jehanne
supported him ; she was very grave, like one who
had no comfort to give.
" That I should lean on you, joli coeur .' " he
said, and rose unsteadily, holding to her arm.
" Look well to this child, Jehanne," he added in
a sterner tone, " for meseems he will wear the
crown sooner than I "
" Helas / " she answered tenderly. " This is
not Edward who speaks so sadly "
" Jehanne," he said, " I shall never wear mail
She shook her head, looking up at him, and tried
" I shall no more set lance in rest nor draw
sword," he continued. " I have been useless sick
so long, and now I feel death in my bones."
" Never," said the gentle Jehanne, '' have you
come back to me in this ill humour — the air of
England will restore you, seigneur."
" The air of England will be no balm to my
hurts," he answ^ered. " Take me to the child."
She led him gently to the next chamber, her
own, where Prince Edward had lain two days in
an increasing fever.
It was a tall and glooming room, hung with
cloths covered with stitching in bright wools.
The two arched windows opened on to the
courtyard and the distant prospect of the sea, and
were crossed by the boughs of a poplar tree that
shook golden and amber leaves against the mullions.
An Eastern rug spread the floor, and there was
an open hearth on which some logs smouldered.
The bed stood out from the wall opposite the
windows, and was hung with curtains of clean
blue and white check linen ; at the foot of it were
two chairs, on one of which a white dog slept.
Beside the bed was a j^ne dieu, with an illumi-
nated book on the rest, beneath which hung a
long strip of embroidered silk, beyond that several
coffers and chests, still unpacked, and a couch
piled with skins and garments.
Two women and a man were talking together
over the fire ; they rose hastily at the entrance of
the Prince, but he took no heed of them.
Aided by his wife, he came to the end of the
bed and stood holding by the light rail.
Under the blue and white frill of the canopy
a child lay asleep, his brown hair a tangle on the
stiff white bolster, his flushed cheek pressed against
The coverlet that was worked with the arms of
England on a blue ground was drawn up to his
chin, his little body only slightly disturbed thQ
smoothness of the heavy fall of the silk.
" In what manner did he become sick ? "
demanded the Prince hoarsely. " God wot, you
might have looked to him better."
The Princess quivered beneath his hand on
" Neither he nor Eichard," she answered,
" has been from my sight since you left me ;
but there has been much sickness in Bordeaux."
The tears overbrimmed her eyes and ran down
her pale cheeks. " I have been watching him
these two days without sleep," she added.
Edward of Wales did not answer her ; his
hollow eyes were fixed upon his heir — that third
Edward who was to carry on the splendour of
England and the glory of Plantagenet.
The boy had always been next his heart ;
Richard, his second son, was not of so kindly a
nature. His father did not see in him promise
of his own qualities, but his eldest born was his
own copy, beautiful, brave, at six a perfect little
Jehanne glanced timidly up at his bitter, stern
" You must not grieve," she whispered ; " he
will be well in a little while. Is he not strong,
and will he not be running beside you in a few
short days ? "
Still Edward the Black Prince did not answer ;
he disengaged himself from her fond support
and walked heavily to his son's pillow, then sank
on his knees on the bedstep and clasped his thin
hands against the coverlet.
The little face so near to his was calm and
proud, the flower of English beauty, gold and rose
in tint, blunt featured, strongly made, yet deHcate.
Save that he was deeply flushed and his hair
damp beneath the tumble of silken curls, he might
have been in perfect health. The weary, sick,
disappointed, and defeated knight, with that
dark day of Limoges on his soul, stared with a
piteous eagerness at the child's gracious innocency.
The child who would be King of England
soon, surely ; it was mere chance who would
live the longer, the old King languishing at West-
minster in tarnished glory at Alice Ferrer's side,
or his famous son who had just resigned his com-
mands and was coming home to die. Edward
himself never thought that he would be King ;
he felt the sands of life running out too swiftly.
That day when he had been carried through
the slaughter round the church of St. Etienne at
Limoges he had known that it was the last time
he would look on war.
And Edward the King could not live long now.
So soon the fair child would be Lord of England
and possessor of all the perilous honours and
glories of his father. The Prince's proud head
sank low ; the hot tears welled up and bhnded
him, then dripped down his cheeks as he considered
his smirched chivalry.
And the Princess Jehanne saw this, but did
not dare to stir from her place, for she knew that,
as a shield once dented by a heavy sword can
never be made smooth again, so a knight's honour
once stained can never more be cleaned, even by
the bitterest repentance. For her husband to
have fallen from this lofty code, which was the
only code that held among those of gentle blood,
was a more awful thing than the lapse of a poor
obscure kniglit, for he had blazed so brightly in
his chivalry and brought such renown to England
that the whole world had echoed with his fame.
The Prince rested his cheek against the arms
of England on the coverlet ; he felt the lassitude
of a man who sees that life is done, and that never
more in this world will he perform feats of arms or
guide great policies or strive with men or shine
The loss of his strength had had the effect of
drawing a veil between him and the world ; seeing
as a spectator those events in which he had once
played a leading part, he had come to estimate
And now that feehng culminated ; he felt like
one very old, looking back on a long Ufe, or as if
he beheld the incidents of his career painted in
little bright pictures on a long roll of vellum.
It was an unfinished life, a broken, defeated
life, perhaps men might hereafter call it a tarnished
The Prince knew this, and the sense of failure
was like a black cloud on his heart.
But his little son, sleeping beneath the lepoard-
strewn coverlet, would redeem his own unfulfilled
" Ah, dear Lord Christ, and St. George," he
prayed, " let this be so — let him be a very perfect
knight and a great King."
Hearing a little movement, he lifted his head.
The child was awake ; the sparkhng blue of
his eyes was briUiant in his flushed face.
" Seigneur ! " he whispered, seeing his father ;
he smiled. " Shall we be going to England
soon ? "
" Even now they load the boats," answered
the Prince. " You wish to return to England ? "
" Certes,^' said the child wistfully. '* Is the
war over ? " he added.
" What should you know of that ? " asked
the Prince, startled.
" I did hear the knights all talking of the war."
" It is not over," answered Edward sombrely.
*' Your Uncle Lancaster will finish that business."
" Helas ! I would I were a big knight, Seig-
neur," murmured the child.
" There is time for that," said the Prince.
His son stared at him for a moment's silence,
then said —
" When the knights showed us feats with the
lance in the courtyard, Richard was afraid."
" Nay," replied Edward angrily, " not afraid ! "
The child nodded.
*' Richard has a new silk cote hardie which
pleases him mightily ; but when I am well I shall
have a shirt of mail, shall I not ? "
" Ay ! " answered the Prince, " if the armourer
can make one so small."
The child closed his eyes.
" Why am I sick, Seigneur ? " he muttered,
" Did I do wrong ? "
*' You are not sorely sick ? " he demanded
His son put out a hot hand, which the Prince
" I feel so tired," he whispered, still with his
eyes closed ; " but when I sleep the dragons come
and crawl over the bed "
Jehanne had crept round to the other side of
"Let him sleep, Edward," she whispered
'' He can sleep while I hold his hand," answered
the Prince, never lifting his eyes from his son's face.
" Nay, but you should rest," she insisted.
'' Have you not come a long journey, and are
you not sick ? "
" I rested at Lormont," answered Edward.
The Princess lifted her red kirtle from her
feet and crossed to the doctor, who stood between
the two women on the hearth, and whispered to
him, her pretty face quivering with agitation.
A wind was rising from the sea, ruffling the
waves, shaking the cordage of the anchored ships
and lifting the little pennons of England that
struggled at the main masts. This wind beat
at the diamond - shaped leaded casements and
scattered the leaves from the poplar tree without
in a yellow shower like golden ducats dropped by
a reluctant hand across the prospect of sea and
The Princess Jehanne came back to the bed
with the doctor; he was a Spaniard, who had
been in the service of Don Pedro and was renowned
for his knowledge of Eastern medicine.
He spoke in French to the Prince, with a
'* Fair Seigneur, permit me to look to the little
Prince. And for yourself, it would be wiser that
you should rest."
Edward glanced up into his cool, composed
face ; then rose heavily and seated himself in the
stiff chair against the wall.
The doctor bent over the child, delicately
touched his brow, then called, in soft Spanish,
one of the women, who came with a small horn
beaker in her hand.
The little Prince was moaning. When he saw
the draught he tried to push it away, and shut
his lips obstinately.
" Ah, far def cried the father, *' what
manner of knight will you become ? "
The child sat up, shuddering, but meek, and
swallowed the noisome liquid without a protest.
'* Is he better ? " whispered the Princess
Jehanne, drawing the coverlet anxiously up over
him as he lay down.
The doctor shook his head.
" Not — worse ? " she faltered.
" That I cannot say," he replied. " The fever
is very high."
She glanced at her husband sitting gloomy
and silent, and beckoned one of the women and
whispered to her to fetch Prince Richard, who
might charm the Prince out of his melancholy.
But when his second son was brought and led
up to him, Edward showed no manner of interest.
Yet the child was of a neat and exact beauty
and very richly dressed in brown silk and very
humble in his duty.
'' Were you afraid of the lance play ? " asked
Richard looked up in a mischievous and charm-
"I do prefer, Seigneur, to go in a litter to
horseback," he lisped.
*' Do you not love to see the jousts 1 " frowned
" I like to play at the ball," returned Richard.
" Take him away for a false knight," said the
" Ahe, at four years old ! " cried Jehanne of
Kent indignantly. She came round the bed and
caught the younger Prince to her bosom swiftly,
" He is my son," flashed Edward, ** and he loves
not arms. Take him hence."
The Princess gave Richard to the lady who had
brought him, and as he found himself being carried
away he began to wail and cry, which completed
the Prince's contempt ; in truth he was augry
with Richard for being well and lusty while his
brother lay sick. The Princess noticed his exclama-
tion of annoyance as the child broke into sobs.
" You are not fair to Richard," she said,
" Pardi, you must have your favourite," he
retorted gloomily. '* H you had given the care
to Edward you do to Richard he might have been
on his feet to welcome me."
Jehanne turned abruptly away, smarting from
the injustice of the rebuke.
" If you had spared Limoges," she answered,
'' God's judgment would not have fallen on you
in this matter."
The Prince shrank against the wall and lifted
Instantly she was on her knees before him.
*' Forgive me," she said passionately.
He did not speak a word ; his thin hand lightly
touched the silver caul that bound her fair hair,
but his eyes had moved to his son.
The little Prince slept again, though uneasily,
with moans and twitchings in his limbs.
"I might have spared Limoges," muttered
Edward, " but I had sworn by my father's soul."
Jehanne kissed the hand that had been with-
drawn from her head.
'' Come away for a little while," she pleaded,
" while he sleeps."
He rose and suffered her to lead him into the
next chamber, where he lay exhausted along the
couch by the oriel window and sent for his beloved
brother, the Duke of Lancaster.
Jehanne sat silently by his side on a little
stool, her brow furrow^ed and her cheeks colourless ;
she had never seen the Prince so silent, so weak,
She was relieved when the magnificent Johan,
still in his camail and surtout, full of vigour and
energy, entered the chamber.
" How goes the lading of the ship ? " asked
Edward of Wales. " We sail with the first fair
" Pardi," said the Duke in his deep voice, *' I
have no time to go down to the shore yet, but I
do not think they will make delays."
" Surely," said the Prince. " I am right weary
And he gave a sigh as if he would burst his
" Yet I must see more of it," returned Johan,
coming to salute the Princess, which he did with
good will, being close in sincere friendship with
The Prince lay back languidly.
" How can you keep a foothold without
money ? " he asked impatiently.
Johan's deep eyes rested lovingly on his brother's
'' By St. George," he said, " if I can keep these
fiefs no other way, I will out of my own revenues
and charges support the war "
Edward looked at him fully, and the tears
washed the eyes of the Princess.
" Seigneur," she said, " you can with a very
comfortable heart return to England, knowing
how loyally Johan will uphold you here."
She felt warmly towards Johan, for she knew
that it was he who had turned aside the Prince's
vengeance from Jean le Cros and saved him
from the crime of taking the life of a son of the
Perhaps the Prince thought of that too •
perhaps he thought that the blood of the three
thousand slain in Limoges was as heavy a burden
to bear as the blood of a bishop.
" Ay, save Acquitaine, Johan," he murmured,
" for the honour of England."
His eyes turned wistfully to the fading day
that died beyond the oriel window. Surely, he
thought, I have drunk of the last drop of bitterness.
I, Edward of Wales, to return to England a useless
man, leaving defeat behind for a younger knight
The Duke of Lancaster stood watching him,
with many thoughts in his heart, and presently
Edward turned to him and spoke, in a voice earnest
** Johan, when the King dies I shall be in my
The Princess broke his speech by a sharp,
piteous intake <"f breath, and caught desperately
at his slack hand.
*' Oh, Jehanne," he said, " I have flattered
your fears long enough. And now I must speak
He paused, for his breath failed him.
" Speak," answered Johan, " for I am ready
to take any charge that you may give me "
" My son Edward will be King of England,"
whispered the Prince ; " and he is a young child.
Stand you by him and by his mother in their
*' I will," said the Duke gravely.
" I entreat this of you now," added Edward,
, GOD'S PLAYTHINGS
'' for it well may be that I shall never see you
again. I think," and the bitterness of his failure
echoed in his voice, " that I shall die before we
"Be of better cheer, brother," answered the
Duke, "for I have great hopes that you will
recover in England."
" Nay, I am past mending," said the Prince ;
" and were it not that I have some desire to draw
my last breath in English air, I would die here
and leave my bones where I have left my knight-
hood and my chivalry."
" You scarcely think of me," said Jehanne of
Kent, and her eyes reminded him how much he
had loved her once ; lately he had seemed to fall
away from the close confines of her affection.
He returned her gaze sadly.
" Yea, I think of you," he answered, " but
men's matters fill my mind. Y^et be content.
You are a sweet woman, Jehanne."
He caressed her cheek with languid fingers,
and again his eyes sought the window and the
pale sky beyond, and his face was moody, as if
he saw passing in the windy spaces without all
the pageants, battles, triumphs, ' achievements
and glories that had gone to make his life — all the
great world that was still full of feats of arms, of
ambitions, of splendour, of laughter, whirling,
receding, leaving him in this quiet chamber,
useless, sick, and defeated.
The Duke.of Lancaster, who was in command
of the troops who had escorted the Prince to
Bordeaux and had a hundred matters on his
mind, left the chamber.
Jehanne sat silent, forgotten, unnoticed, beside
the Prince, who, with his head sunk on his breast,
was dreaming of the life that was past and the
life he had hoped to live.
Presently candles were brought in, but he made
no movement nor did the Princess, stiff and cold
on her stool.
The wind, with a gentle persistence, shook the
tall window-frame and lifted the arras on the wall ;
clouds were coming up from beyond the sea and
blotting the tawny crimson streaks of the sunset.
Dark settled in the chamber and the candles
winked, little points of light in a great gloom.
Pleasant, cheerful noises of horses and men
came from the courtyard where the lading and
unlading was proceeding ; the sounds of the mules
and their drivers could be heard as a long pro-
cession of them laden with baggage started for
At last the Prince spoke.
** This is a homeward wind," he said.
As he raised his head to speak he saw the door
open and the Spanish doctor enter.
Jehanne turned, and, fearful of bad news, put
her finger to her lips.
But Edward got to his feet, caught her aside,
and said in the voice of a strong man —
" What news of my son ? "
The doctor answered steadily, without fear or
" The Prince is worse, Seigneur, and it were
well that you should come."
Edward of Wales bowed his head and followed
the doctor into the next apartment.
The candles were lit and the curtains drawn ;
a smell of herbs, of wax, of incense, was heavy in
the air. A priest was kneeling at the foot of the
bed ; the full Latin words of his whispered prayer
came clearly to the Prince's ears.
The little Edward lay on his back with his head
An awful change had come over him since
last his father had looked on him ; an expression
of pain had also given him an expression of maturity,
the unnatural flush had faded, leaving him bluish-
white, while under his bright eyes was a purple
The Prince staggered to the bed.
" Limoges, Limoges," he muttered.
He cast himself on his knees and clutched the
'' Dear Lord Jesus, what is this coming to me ! "
Another doctor moved about ; Jehanne stopped
and spoke to him. He could tell her nothing save
that, despite all the most approved remedies, the
Prince had within the last hour become rapidly
worse and finally lost consciousness.
Jehanne turned desperately to the great bed
where her child lay, breathing heavily, with glazed
fixed eyes and dry lips.
'' Is it the plague ? " she asked.
They could not tell her.
** Oh, dear, dear Lord and St. George," prayed
the Prince, " put not this loss on England ; punish
me not this way ! "
The child turned on his side and muttered a
few words, all relating to arms and horses and
war ; his eyes closed jerkily and then fluttered open.
Johan of Lancaster entered ; he whispered to
the doctors, then came lightly to the bed, walking
as softly as a woman for all his great stature and
He glanced at the child, he glanced at his
brother, then touched the kneeling priest on the
" He will not die," said the Prince ; *' in a
little while he will wake and be well again."
The priest rose and left the room.
A long swell of wind lifted the Eastern tapestry
on the floor, fluttered the long curtains and stirred
the aromatic scents and the clouds of incense that
hung in the air.
Jehanne of Kent stood rigid, staring down at
the pillow ; her yellow hair had slipped and hung
loose in the silver caul.
And her face showed hollow in the fluttering
The little Prince turned from side to side,
catching his breath in his throat.
*' Seigneur . . ."he gasped, " let me . . .
mount the white horse . . . the great horse. ..."
He began to cough, and his small fingers pulled
at the pillow ; he stared straight at his father.
" He does not see me," whispered Edward ;
" he is blind."
" Why do you leave me alone ? " complained
the child ; " but I . . . am . . . not . . . afraid
— never . . . afraid."
The Prince caught his arm passionately, then
turned in a slow horror, for he saw Jehanne and
his brother sink to their knees. He looked over
In the doorway stood three priests ; the centre
one held with upraised hands an object swathed
in white silk.
" In nomine patris, filiis, ct spiritus sanctus,'^
he said, and drew aside the white silk, revealing
the Eucharist glittering like a captured star.
" No," began Edward, " no "
He turned again to the bed ; a light struggle
shook the child's limbs. He twisted his arm out
of his father's grasp and pressed his two hands
together, pointed heavenwards.
" Saint — George " he breathed very faintly,
then " England."
His hands fell apart and his mouth dropped
into a circle ; a faint quiver ran through his body,
and his head sank on to his shoulder.
The Host was borne round the bed, and no one
Then Edward rose, regardless of the Presence
" Too late," he said in a terrible voice. " My
son, my son ! "
And before the priest carrying the Eucharist
the victor of Cressy sank like a felled sapling, and
Jehanne caught his head on her knee, her heart
motionless in her bosom.
So died the youngest of the three royal Edwards
of England, a few days before the sailing from
Bordeaux, and soon after the other two were both
at peace in Westminster and Kichard was on the
throne with Johan of Gaunt for his guardian and
many troubles ahead.
LucREZiA Borgia, Duchess d'Este
Three women stood before a marble-margined
pool in the grounds of the Ducal palace at Ferrara ;
behind them three cypresses waved against a
purple sky from which the sun was beginning to
fade ; at the base of these trees grew laurel, ilex,
and rose bushes. Round the pool was a sweep of
smooth green across which the light wind lifted
and chased the red, white and pink rose leaves.
Beyond the pool the gardens descended, terrace
on terrace of opulent trees and flowers ; behind
the pool the square strength of the palace rose,
with winding steps leading to balustraded balconies.
Further still, beyond palace and garden, hung
vineyard and cornfield in the last warm maze of
All was spacious, noble, silent ; ambrosial
scents rose from the heated earth — the scent of
pine, lily, rose and grape.
The centre woman of the three who stood by
the pool was the Spanish Duchess, Lucrezia,
daughter of the Borgia Pope. The other two held
her up imder the arms, for her limbs were weak
The pool was spread with the thick-veined
leaves of water-lilies and upright plants with
succulent stalks broke the surface of the water.
In between the sky was reflected placidly, and the
Duchess looked down at the counterfeit of her face
as clearly given as if in a hand-mirror.
It was no longer a young face ; beauty was
painted on it skilfully ; false red, false white,
bleached hair cunningly dyed, faded eyes darkened
on brow and lash, lips glistening with red oint-
ment, the lost loveliness of throat and shoulders
concealed under a lace of gold and pearls, made
her look like a portrait of a fair woman, painted
And, also like one composed for her picture,
her face was expressionless save for a certain air
of gentleness, which seemed as false as everything
else about her — false and exquisite, inscrutable
and alluring — alluring still with a certain sickly
and tainted charm, slightly revolting as were the
perfumes of her unguents when compared to the
pure scents of trees and flowers. Her women had
painted faces, too, but they were plainly gowned,
one in violet, one in crimson, while the Duchess
blazed in every device of splendour.
Her dress, of citron-coloured velvet, trafled
about her in huge folds, her bodice and her enormous
sleeves sparkled with tight-sewn jewels ; her hair
was twisted into plaits and curls and ringlets ;
in her ears were pearls so large that they touched
She trembled in her splendour and her kaees
bent ; the two women stood silent, holding her
up — they were little more than slaves.
She continued to gaze at the reflection of
herself ; in the water she was fair enough. Pre-
sently she moistened her painted lips with a quick
movement of her tongue.
" Will you go in, Madonna ? " asked one of the
The Duchess shook her- head ; the pearls
tinkled among the dyed curls.
" Leave me here," she said.
She drew herself from their support and sank
heavily and wearily on the marble rim of the
" Bring me my cloak."
They fetched it from a seat among the laurels ;
it was white velvet, unwieldy with silver and
Lucrezia drew it round her shoulders with a
'' Leave me here," she repeated.
They moved obediently across the soft grass
and disappeared up the laurel-shaded steps that
led to the terraces before the high-built palace.
The Duchess lifted her stiff fingers, that were
rendered almost useless by the load of gems on
them, to her breast.
Trails of pink vapour, mere wraiths of clouds
began to float about the west ; the long Italian
twilight had fallen.
A young man parted the bushes and stepped
on to the grass ; he carried a lute slung by a red
ribbon across his violet jacket; he moved deli-
cately, as if reverent of the great beauty of the
Lucrezia turned her head and watched him
with weary eyes.
He came lightly nearer, not seeing her. A
flock of homing doves passed over his head ;
he swung on his heel to look at them and the
reluctantly departing sunshine was golden on his
Lucrezia still watched him, intently, narrowly ;
he came nearer again, saw her, and paused in
confusion, pulHng off his black velvet cap.
" Come here," she said in a chill, hoarse voice.
He obeyed with an exquisite swiftness and fell
on one knee before her ; his dropped hand touched
the ground a pace beyond the furthest-flung edge
of her gown.
*' Who are you ? " she asked.
" Ormfredo Orsini, one of the Duke's gentle-
men, Madonna," he answered.
He looked at her frankly surprised to see her
alone in the garden at the turn of the day. He
was used to see her surrounded by her poets, her
courtiers, her women ; she was the goddess of a
cultured court and persistently worshipped.
" One of the Orsini," she said. " Get up from
He thought she was thinking of her degraded
lineage, of the bad, bad blood in her veins. As
he rose he considered these things for the first
time. She had lived decorously at Ferrara for
twenty-one years, nearly the whole of his life-
time ; but he had heard tales, though he had never
dwelt on them.
*' You look as if you were afraid of me "
*' Afraid of you — I, Madonna ? "
" Sit down," she said.
He seated himseK on the marble rim and
stared at her ; his fresh face wore a puzzled
" What do you want of me, Madonna V he
" Ahe ! " she cried. *' How very young you
are, Orsini ! "
Her eyes flickered over him impatiently, greedily ;
the twilight was beginning to fall over her, a merci-
ful veil ; but he saw her for the first time as an
old woman. Slightly he drew back, and his lute
touched the marble rim as he moved, and the
" When I was your age," she said, " I had
been betrothed to one man and married to another,
and soon I was wedded to a third. I have forgotten
all of them."
" You have been so long our lady here," he
answered. "You may well have forgotten the
world, Madonna, beyond Ferrara."
" You are a Roman ? "
" Yes, Madonna."
She put out her right hand and clasped his arm.
" Oh, for an hour of Rome ! — in the old days ! "
Her whole face, with its artificial beauty and
undisguisable look of age, was close to his ; he
felt the sense of her as the sense of something
She was no longer the honoured Duchess of Fer-
rara, but Lucrezia, the Borgia's lure, Cesare's sister,
Alessandro's daughter, the heroine of a thousand
orgies, the inspiration of a hundred crimes.
The force with which this feeling came over
him made him shiver ; he shrank beneath her hand.
" Have you heard things of me ? " she asked
in a piercing voice.
" There is no one in Italy who has not heard
of you, Madonna."
" That is no answer, Orsini. And I do not
want your barren flatteries."
" You are the Duke's wife," he said, " and I
am the servant of the Duke."
" Does that mean that you must lie to me ? "
She leant even nearer to him ; her whitened
chin, circled by the stiff goldwork of her collar,
touched his shoulder.
" Tell me I am beautiful," she said. " I must
hear that once more — from young lips."
" You are beautiful. Madonna."
She moved back and her eyes flared.
'' Did I not say I would not have your flat-
teries ? "
" What, then, was your meaning ? "
" Ten years ago you would not have asked ;
no man would have asked. I am old. Lucrezia
old ! — ah, Gods above ! "
" You are beautiful," he repeated. "' But how
should I dare to touch you with my mouth ? "
" You would have dared, if you had thought
me desirable," she answered hoarsely. " You
cannot guess how beautiful I was — before you were
He felt a sudden pity for her ; the glamour
of her fame clung round her and gilded her. Was
not this a woman who had been the fairest in Italy
seated beside him ?
He raised her hand and kissed the palm, the
only part that was not hidden with jewels.
" You are sorry for me," she said.
Orsini started at her quick reading of his
" I am the last of my family," she added.
" And sick. Did you know that I was sick,
Orsini ? "
" Nay, Madonna."
" For weeks I have been sick. And wearying
*' Rome," he ventured, " is different now,
'' Ahe ! " she wailed. " And I am different
Her hand lay on his knee ; he looked at it and
wondered if the things he had heard of her were
true. She had been the beloved child of her
father, the old Pope, rotten with bitter wickedness ;
she had been the friend of her brother, the dreadful
Cesare — her other brother, Francesco, and her second
husband — was it not supposed that she knew how
both had died ?
But for twenty-one years she had lived in
Ferrara, patroness of poet and painter, companion
of such as the courteous gentle Venetian, Pietro
And Alfonso d'Este, her husband, had found
no fault with her ; as far as the world could see,
there had been no fault to find.
Ormfredo Orsini stared at the hand sparkHng
on his knee and wondered.
" Suppose that I was to make you my father
confessor ? " she said. The white mantle had
fallen apart and the bosom of her gown glittered,
even in the twilight.
" What sins have you to confess, Madonna ? "
She peered at him sideways.
" A Pope's daughter should not be afraid of
the Judgment of God," she answered. " And I
am not. I shall relate my sins at the bar of Heaven
and say I have repented— Ah e— if I was young
again ! "
" Your Highness has enjoyed the world," said
*'Yea, the sun," she replied, "but not the
" The twilight ? "
" It has been twilight now for many years,"
she said, *' ever since I came to Ferrara."
The moon was rising behind the cypress trees,
a slip of glowing light. Lucrezia took her chin
in her hand and stared before her ; a soft breeze
stirred the tall reeds in the pool behind her and
gently ruffled the surface of the water.
The breath of the night-smelling flowers pierced
the slumbrous air ; the palace showed a faint
shape, a marvellous tint ; remote it looked and
uncertain in outline.
Lucrezia was motionless ; her garments were
dim, yet glittering, her face a blur ; she seemed
the ruin of beauty and graciousness, a fair thing
dropped suddenly into decay.
Orsini rose and stepped away from her ; the
perfume of her unguents offended him. He found
something horrible in the memory of former
allurement that clung to her ; ghosts seemed to
crowd round her and pluck at her, like fierce
birds at carrion.
He caught the glitter of her eyes through the
dusk ; she was surely evil, bad to the inmost
core of her heart ; her stale beauty reeked of dead
abomination. . . . Why had he never noticed it
The ready wit of his rank and blood failed
him ; he turned away towards the cypress trees.
The Duchess made no attempt to detain him ;
she did not move from her crouching, watchful
When he reached the belt of laurels he looked
back and saw her dark shape still against the
waters of the pool that were beginning to be
touched with the argent glimmer of the rising
moon. He hurried on, continually catching the
strings of his lute against the boughs of the flower-
ing shrubs ; he tried to laugh at himself for being
afraid of an old, sick woman ; he tried to ridicule
himself for believing that the admired Duchess,
for so long a decorous great lady, could in truth be
a creature of evil.
But the conviction flashed into his heart was
too deep to be uprooted.
She had not spoken to him like a Duchess of
Ferrara, but rather as the wanton Spaniard whose
excesses had bewildered and sickened Eome.
A notable misgiving was upon him ; he had
heard great men praise her, Ludovico Ariosto,
Cardinal Ippolito's secretary and the noble Venetian
Bembo ; he had himself admired her remote and
refined splendour. Yet, because of these few
moments of close talk with her, because of a near
gaze into her face, he felt that she was something
horrible, the poisoned offshoot of a bad race.
He thought that there was death on her glisten-
ing painted lips, and that if he had kissed them he
would have died, as so many of her lovers were
reputed to have died.
He parted the cool leaves and blossoms and
came on to the borders of a lake that lay placid
under the darkling sky.
It was very lonely ; bats twinkled past with a
black flap of wings ; the moon had burnt the
heavens clear of stars ; her pure light began to fill
the dusk. Orsini moved softly, with no comfort
in his heart.
The stillness was intense ; he could hear his
own footfall, the soft leather on the soft grass.
He looked up and down the silence of the lake.
Then suddenly he glanced over his shoulder.
Lucrezia Borgia was standing close behind him ;
when he turned her face looked straight into his.
He moaned with terror and stood rigid ; awful
it seemed to him that she should track him so
stealthily and be so near to him in this silence
and he never know of her presence.
" Eh, Madonna ! " he said.
" Eh, Orsini," she answered in a thin voice,
and at the sound of it he stepped away, till his foot
was almost in the lake.
His unwarrantable horror of her increased, as
he found that the glowing twihght had confused
him ; for, whereas at first he had thought she was
the same as when he had left her seated by the
pool, royal in dress and bearing, he saw now that
she was leaning on a stick, that her figure had
fallen together, that her face was yellow as a
church candle, and that her head was bound with
plasters, from the under edge of which her eyes
twinkled, small and lurid.
She wore a loose gown of scarlet brocade that
hung open on her arms that showed lean and dry ;
the round bones at her wrist gleamed white under
the tight skin, and she wore no rings.
** Madonna, you are ill," muttered Ormfredo
Orsini. He wondered how long he had been
wandering in the garden.
" Very ill," she said. " But talk to me of Rome.
You are the only Roman at the Court, Orsini."
" Madonna, I know nothing of Rome," he
answered, " save our palace there and sundry
She raised one hand from the stick and clutched
" Will you hear me confess ? " she asked.
" All my beautiful sins that I cannot tell the priest ?
All we did in those days of youth before this
dimness at Ferrara ? "
" Confess to God," he answered, trembling
Lucrezia drew nearer.
" All the secrets Cesare taught me," she
whispered. " Shall I make you heir to them ? "
" Christ save me," he said, " from the Duke of
Valentinois' secrets ! "
" Who taught you to fear my family 1 " she
questioned with a cunning accent. " Will you
hear how the Pope feasted with his Hebes and
Ganymedes ? Will you hear how we lived in the
Vatican ? "
Orsini tried to shake her arm off ; anger rose
to equal his fear.
" Weed without root or flower, fruitless useless-
ness ! " he said hoarsely. " Let me free of your
spells ! "
She loosed his arm and seemed to recede from
him without movement ; the plasters round her
head showed ghastly white, and he saw all the
wrinkles round her drooped lips and the bleached
ugliness of her bare throat.
" Will you not hear of Rome ? " she insisted
in a wailing whisper. He fled from her, crashing
through the bushes.
Swiftly and desperately he ran across the lawns
and groves, up the winding steps to the terraces
before the palace, beating the twilight with his
outstretched hands as if it was an obstacle in his
Stumbling and breathless, he gained the painted
corridors that were lit with a hasty blaze of wax
light. Women were running to and fro, and he saw a
priest carrying the Holy Eucharist cross a distant
One of these women he stopped.
*' The Duchess " he began, panting.
She laid her finger on her lip.
*' They carried her in from the garden an hour
ago ; they bled and plastered her, but she died —
before she could swallow the wafer — (hush ! she
was not thinking of holy things, Orsini !) — ten
minutes ago "
THE CAMP OUTSIDE NAMUR
Don Juan of Austria
" Sa Majeste ne resout rien ; du moins, on me tient ignorant de
ses intentions. Je pousse des cris, mais en vain. II est clair qu'on
nous laisse ici pour y languir jusqu'^ notre dernier soupir."
Don Juan to Mendoza, September IQtJi, 1578,
from " The Camp " outside Namur,
" No3 vies sont en jeu et tout que nous demandons, c'est de les
perdre aveo honneur."
Don Juan to Philip II., September 20th, 1578,
from "The Camp" outside Namur,
The Imperial Army, composed of Germans,
Walloons and Spanish regiments, was encamped
outside Namur, at the juncture of the Sambre and
Meuse, where Charles V. had been entrenched
when pressed by the forces of Henri II.
The Commander of the Army was the son of
Charles V., Don Juan of Austria, the hero of
Christendom armed against the infidel, the victor
of Lepanto, the conqueror of Tunis, blessed by
the Pope, a brilHant name in Europe, half-brother
of the great King Philip and son of a servant
girl, near the throne, of the blood royal, but barred
for ever from it, a prince yet linked with peasants ;
he had blazed very brightly over Europe, the King
had flattered him, had caressed him and used
By the King's favour he had swept over Italy,
Sicily, Africa, a conqueror, almost within touch of
a throne ; by the King's favour he had been sent to
crush the rebel heretics who were rising against
the might of Spain in the Low Countries.
And now the King was silent ; it seemed as if
he meant to abandon Don Juan. Antonio Perez
was always at the King's ear, and he hated Don
Juan; Escovedo, the Prince's Secretary and
favourite, was assassinated in the streets of Madrid
by order of Perez.
When Don Juan heard this news he thought
that there was no better end preparing for him
and that Perez meant his rum ; the King did not
answer his letters, and his glory broke like a
He had been too great, too beloved, too popular ;
Philip tolerated no rivals.
And now he began to be unfortunate ; the
Prince William of Orange, one time page to Don
Juan's father and now the Captain of Heretics,
marched against him with a powerful army;
the Due D'Anjou joined the cause of the rebels,
and the Queen of England, Elizabeth Tudor, at
last decided to send succours to the rebellious
The forces met ; the day of Rynemants was
almost a defeat for Don Juan.
A haunted, hunted feeling began to possess
him ; in the brilliant south everything had been
THE CAMP OUTSIDE NAMUR
right with him ; here, in the cursed Low Countries,
every step he took seemed a step nearer his
The death of Escovedo weighed on him day
And the King would not write.
Don Juan began to fear and hate his second-
in-command, the Prince of Parma, Alessandro
Farnese, a man of his own age, but his nephew,
for Farnese's mother was Margaret, daughter of
This man was in the confidence of the King ;
Don Juan knew and feared that fact. He began
to dread the sight of the dark Italian face ; the
figure of Farnese seemed to him like that of a
spy — or executioner.
When he had fought Boussu at Pynemants he
had been ill ; when he had held the useless con-
ference with the English envoys he had scarcely
been able to hold himself on his horse, and when
he returned to the camp on the heights of
Bouges outside Namur he fell to his knees as he
dismounted and could not rise for the weight of
They carried him to the quarter of the regiment
of Figueroa and lodged him in a pigeon-house or
place for fowls belonging to a Flemish farm the
Spanish guns had demolished.
No one knew what illness ailed him ; some
spoke of the plague, some of the Dutch fever,
others said he had worn himself out with the
fatigues of war and the delights of Italy.
The fever increased on him ; he wrote to
Mendoza, the Spanish agent at Genoa ; he wrote
to Andrea D'Aria, his companion in arms of
Lepanto ; he wrote to the King. But with little
hope, for he felt himself abandoned.
Monseigneur Frangois D'Anjou, brother of the
King of France, was at Mons and had taken on
himself the title of Defender of the Low Countries
against the Spanish Tyranny; Don Juan had
only eighteen thousand men, of which six thousand
were Spanish, old, tried troops, and the rest merely
Walloon and German mercenaries of doubtful
They had scarcely any artillery and but little
The plague appeared in the camp, numbers of
the small army sickened and died.
There came news that the Enghsh were sailing
for Flushing and that WilUam of Orange was
advancing on Namur.
Don Juan of Austria lay in the pigeon-house,
prostrate with fever, sad and silent.
It was the end of September ; day after day
was sunny, with a honey-coloured peaceful light
resting on the camp, on the two rivers, on the
fortifications of Namur; the windmills stood
motionless in the stagnant air ; the few willows
by the river turned from grey-green to dull amber
and shook their long leaves on the soft, muddy
bank ; the horizon was veiled in mist, yellow,
soft and mournful ; at night the moon rose pale
gold through languid dusky vapours; in the
THE CAMP OUTSIDE NAMUR
morning the sun rose, glimmering through melan-
choly mists, and above the camp hung, day and
night, the fumes of the plague, of fever, the exhala-
tions of decay and sickness, the close odours of
Juan of Austria loathed this place as passionately
as he had loved Naples and Sicily ; the plain with
the two rivers embracing the frowning town of
Namur seemed to him hateful as some roadway
to Hell ; he dreaded the warm moist nights, the
long misty days, the veiled Northern skies, the
flat, distant melancholy horizon, and he hated these
things more because he sometimes felt that he
would never see any other skies or fields but these,
never see any moon or sun rise over any town
but this high battlemented fortress of Namur.
He was trapped, abandoned, forgotten ; the
hero of Lepanto, the conqueror of Tunis, was left
to die miserably in this vile swamp — forsaken !
He resolved, when the fever left his mind clear,
that he would not die, that he would live to face
Philip in the Escurial and demand an account
for this — and for other things.
On September 28th he confessed, on the 28th
he received the communion.
His confessor, Francisco Orantes, told him that
he was dying, but he laughed that away.
In the evening of that day he fell into a delirium
and for two days tossed unconscious, in great
torments, talking continually of wars, of soldiers,
of conquests and arms.
On the first of October the fever abated and
lie seemed much recovered ; lie fell into a little
sleep about the dawn, and when it was fully light
he woke and sent for the Prince of Parma.
When that general came, Juan of Austria
raised himself on his elbow and looked at him
with a searching kind of eagerness, and Farnese
stood arrested, in the poor doorway, glaring at
the sick man.
The pigeon-house, in which Don Juan lay, was
the size of a small tent, of clay with niches in the
walls for the birds ; part of the tiled roof and a
portion of one wall had gone, and through this the
early, misty Northern sunlight streamed, for the
canvas that had been dragged over the aperture
was drawn away to admit the air.
On the rough mud floor a carpet of arras had
been flung ; there were a couple of camp chairs
of steel and leather ; a pile of armour, helmet,
greaves, cuirass, cruises, vambraces, damascened
in black and gold and hung with scarlet straps,
was in one corner ; above swung a lantern and a
Facing the entrance the Emperor's son lay
on a pile of rich cloaks and garments embroidered
with a thousand colours in a thousand shapes of
fantasy ; two cloth of gold cushions served to
support his head and gleamed incongruously
against the dull clay wall.
He was himself swathed to the breast in a
mantle of black and orange, and covering his
lower limbs was a robe of crimson samite lined with
THE CAMP OUTSIDE NAMUR
The fine ruffled shirt he wore had been torn in
his delirious struggles and showed his throat and
the gaunt lines of his shoulders.
His face was colourless with the pure pallor
of a blonde complexion, and his long, pale waving
hair clung to his damp forehead and hung dishevelled
either side of his hollow cheeks ; his large grey
eyes, whose usual expression was so joyous, careless
and ardent, now shone with the brilliancy of fever
and were sunk and shadowed beneath with the
bluish tinge that stained his close-drawn lips.
His right hand, on which sparkled an emerald
ring, clutched at the linen over his heart ; the
other was taut on the ground with the effort of
supporting his body.
In the niche above him a solitary white pigeon
sat contented and surveyed his invaded home.
Alessandro Farnese, tall and very slender,
dark-haired, from head to foot in black save for
a great chain of linked gold and jewels over his
velvet doublet, let the improvised curtain fall
into place over the doorway and stood leaning
against the wall, never moving his sombre eyes from
the Prince whose gleaming glance fiercely returned
" Your Highness is a whole man to-day," he
said ; his voice was smooth, low, carefully trained
like his expression and his gestures ; Philip's
favourites always had this quiet way.
" Whether I shall get well or no I cannot tell,"
answered Don Juan hoarsely. " But this I know —
that His Majesty hath forsaken me."
The Prince of Parma took his right elbow in
his left hand and put his right hand to his pointed
" You speak too plainly, senor," he said. His
subtle mind disliked boldness of speech and action ;
he had always been annoyed by these qualities in
" I have done with pretences," answered the
Prince. " I think I must be dying, for I care very
little what happens on earth— yet I have some
curiosity ; it is because of that I sent for you "
he paused gathering his strength. "Why hath
the King forsaken me ? " he asked intensely.
" Even if this were so," said Alessandro Farnese,
" how should I know it ? "
" It is so and you know it," replied Don Juan.
*' The King hath cast me down, and he is putting
you in my place."
The Prince of Parma lifted his dark, arched
" The mind of your Highness is still bemused
by your sickness," he answered soothingly. " Any
hour may bring a post from Madrid."
Don Juan dropped from his elbow, and his
head sank on the gold brocade cushions.
'*I was lost when they killed Escovedo," he
muttered ; " there went my last friend. It would
have been more honourable to die on the battle-
Farnese answered smoothly —
" Your Highness will win many battles yet."
The Emperor's son smiled up at him.
THE CAMP OUTSIDE NAMUR
" What did Philip pay you to mislead me ? "
The Italian's shallow cheek flushed faintly, and
a little quiver, it might be of rage or fear, ran
through his sensitive frame.
" The fever returns on you, senor," he said
Again Don Juan dragged himself into a sitting
" No," he answered with a terrible air, " my
mind is very clear. I see what I have been all
my life. Philip's plaything — no more. And I
dreamt to be a King ! He used me till I climbed
too high and then cast me away. And you, senor,
are to take my place. It was never meant that
I should leave the Low Countries. It was never
meant that I should return again a victor to
Madrid — as servant and as brother I have served
the King well, and in his own fashion he hath
He put his hands before his face and a shudder
went through his body, for in that moment he
thought of all the glorious past that had ended
so suddenly and so terribly.
*' I suffer ! " he moaned. " Jesu and Maria,
I suffer ! "
He fell prostrate, face downwards, on the
tumbled couch, and the strengthening sunlight
played with a mocking brilHance on the scattered
strands of his fair hair.
The Prince of Parma lifted the curtain before
the door and spoke to one of his servants who
waited outside, then crossed and knelt beside his
" Prince," he said in a low tone, " the fever has
turned your mind "
Juan raised his head.
" I am no prince," he answered. " I never was
— but what I am your mother is, Farnese — you
and I alike are tainted."
A sickly pallor crept into the Italian's cheek ;
he clasped his fingers together as if he prayed for
" But you are too crafty to be deceived as I
was," resumed Don Juan faintly. " You would
never dream as I dreamt of being ' Infante ' of
Spain, of being a King ! Therefore Philip spares
you, for you are a useful man, Farnese, and puts
his foot on me because I dared too high — ^but we
are both — his puppets."
The Prince of Parma clenched his hands till
the knuckles showed white through the dark skin.
*' You — always — hated — me," gasped Don Juan.
" Are you in pain 1 " asked Farnese gently.
'' In the torments of Hell," answered the sick
man with a ghostly smile ; '* there is fire eating
my heart, my blood, my brains."
The Prince of Parma's face changed in an
extraordinary fashion ; it was a slight change,
yet one that transformed his expression into that
of utter and satisfied cruelty.
But Don Juan kept his eyes closed, and did
not notice this look bending over him.
Farnese spoke, and his voice was still very gentle.
THE CAMP OUTSIDE NAMUR
" Will your Highness drink this potion ? "
The Prince lifted his burning lids and saw his
page advancing with a goblet of rock crystal, in
which a pale gold liquid floated.
The boy gave this to the kneehng Farnese,
who took it between his long, dark, capable hands.
" This draught has often soothed your High-
ness," he said.
Don Juan dragged himself to a sitting posture ;
as he moved such a weak giddiness seized him
that the clay walls, the rift of sky and the figure
of Farnese swung round him like reflections in
He set his teeth and put out his hot hands for
the goblet ; as he drank a sweet languor and a
grateful cessation of pain swept over him ; he
drained the last drop and gave a little sigh as
Farnese took the shining cup from his feeble grasp.
As he sank back on his cushions he noticed
that a drop of the liquid had fallen on the brocade
cushion, and lay there like an amber bead holding
a spark of sunlight.
The Prince of Parma rose silently, and beckon-
ing to the page, left the sick man alone.
An exquisite lassitude crept over Don Juan ;
his limbs relaxed, his breath came easily, he became
certain that there were long years of glorious and
pleasant life before him ; it was only necessary
for him to regain his health — to defeat the heretics
and return to Spain to confound that villain
Perez. . . .
He was slipping out of consciousness ; the blue
sea of Italy began to rise before his eyes — an
endless expanse of celestial colour over which
sailed the galleys of Spain, Genoa and Venice
bearing down on the infidel fleet.
The victor of Lepanto quivered with joy ; he
thought he was back in Naples, in Sicily ; the
warm scent of a thousand flowers floated round
the rose and amber pillars of the heathen temples,
and from the high windows of gold and painted
palaces dark-eyed women looked, leaning on folds
of glimmering tapestry and twisting wreaths of
roses and laurels in gemmed fingers.
He saw the myrtle with the frail bridal blossoms,
he saw the vineyards with the opulent grapes, he
saw ladies in dresses stiff with jewels and heavy
sleeves slipping from polished shoulders, he saw
peasant girls with flushed faces and dusky hair. . . .
Then these pictures faded ; he was in the dark
silence of the Escurial ; his terrible brother was
speaking to him, caressing him ; then Perez pulled
a curtain back, and he saw his confidant Escovedo,
lying mangled on a bier, bloody, with a fearful face.
Don Juan moaned and opened his eyes ; he was
light-headed ; he beat his hands on the cushions.
" Escovedo ! " he muttered. " Escovedo ! "
The pigeon above, startled by his sudden
movement, flew out over his head and away into
freedom through the broken wall.
Juan of Austria shivered and blenched before
the swift flash of the white wings as if an angel
had passed him.
*' I am a great sinner," he said with trembling
THE CAMP OUTSIDE NAMUR
lips. He remembered how the Pope had embraced
and blessed him after Lepanto ; he hoped that,
in case he died, God would remember it too, and
how he had slain the infidel on the coast of Africa.
His mind cleared, he looked round for Farnese, he
called his secretary, his page, but no one came.
He lay quite still, thinking now of the great
ambition, the great chimera of his life, the pas-
sionate desire to be recognised as royal, as a Prince,
to one day be a King.
He had dreamt that he might be King of
many countries, even King of England with Marie
Stewart for wife, but he had never attained even
recognition as a Prince of Spain.
All Philip's promises, all Philip's flatteries
had amounted to nothing. While he was useful
he was caressed ; when he grew too great he was
forsaken, left without arms, without money, with-
out men, left with Farnese watching him night
And they had killed the man he loved, his
friend, his confidant Escovedo.
That fact rose up horrid, insistent, burning
his heart with rage.
He could not forgive Perez ; he could not
In discomfort of mind and body he tossed
from side to side. One of the gold cushions
slipped from beneath him, and he was too weak
to recover it ; he lay with his eyes vacantly on
it, and presently sat up with sudden strength
and pointed at it with a quivering finger.
On the gold brocade was a round black hole
where the stuff had been burnt away.
Don Juan began to laugh ; he remembered
the yellow drop of liquid that had gleamed on
the rich fabric ; he shouted for some one to
There was no answer ; he supposed that they,
thinking he suffered from the plague, would not
through fear approach him.
He waited ; his attention wandered from the
cushion ; he heard the trumpets without and
Presently a party of horsemen galloped past ;
he could catch a glimpse of them through the
aperture in the wall ; one carried his flag — a
cross on the royal standard with the proud legend :
" In hoc haereticos signo vici Turcos ; in hoc
signo vincam haereticos." The heavy silk folds
recalled these words to the Prince's mind ; he
thought of his success at Gembloux.
** I could defeat them now," he murmured,
'' if I was — on horseback — with a thousand men —
behind me "
The Lowland sun was creeping across the floor
and glimmering in the armour in the corner,
showing the dints and marks in it, the worn straps,
the beautiful gold inlay and the long pure white
plumes floating above the helmet.
Juan of Austria shivered at the sight of the
pale sky, the pale sunlight ; he longed passionately
for the South, for all the purple heat, the violet
shade, the soft hours of noonday silence in a marble
THE CAMP OUTSIDE NAMUR
chamber overlooking the sea, the glossy darkness
of laurel and ilex.
" I will not die here," he said in his throat.
Presently his confessor came, a slow-footed
priest, and asked him if he would not make his will.
*' No, for I have nothing to leave," he answered,
*' so I am spared that trouble."
Francisco Orantes then asked if he would have
the canvas drawn over the broken roof and wall,
for the sun was creeping very near his face.
He answered yes, and it was done ; the barn
was now only lit by the glimmer from the one
" Father, I am not dying," said Don Juan.
** When I die it will be in Spain or Italy ; tell the
King so — tell him I know that he wants me dead —
but that I will not die like this."
The priest, seeing he was out of his wits, made
no answer, but approached and felt his wrist
" Poison," said Don Juan rapidty. ** Poison
— why not the sword — as with Escovedo ? I have
made my peace with heaven — but when shall
Philip clear himself before God ? "
The priest moved away silently as he had come ;
the sick man lay staring at the partial darkness ;
his blood was flaming with a returning agony.
"Philip!" he cried. "Philip! Will you
bury me in the Escurial ? H I die will you put
me next my father ? My father as well as yours,
Philip ! Hold my hand, some one — are you all
afraid ? This is not the plague. I have watched
the heretics burning — I am burning now — I shall
not go to Hell ; I am absolved. Who will absolve
Philip ? Give me a little ease "
The priest stood motionless beside the entrance,
watching him ; Juan dropped into silence, and
then Francisco Orantes came again to his side
and gazed as intently as the dim light allowed
into the young, distorted and beautiful face.
The Prince was unconscious ; the priest's
bloodless hand crept gently to his heart, which
still beat, though reluctantly and faintly.
Fames e entered.
'' He sleeps," said Francisco Orantes.
The Prince of Parma made no answer ; a
slight convulsion shook him, and his face was
swept with a look of limitless pride and ambition
which distorted his fine features hideously.
The priest glanced up at him and shrunk
" This seems a foul end for one who loved life
so," he muttered.
Farnese fingered his long gemmed chain.
" You serve Philip," he answered coldly.
Don Juan struggled back to consciousness,
opened his eyes and looked up at the two bending
over him ; a sensation that he had never known
before in all his life overcame him — a sensation
of wild fear.
He fought with his weakness and dragged
" Is there no one to help me ? " he implored.
-* To save me from Phihp and Philip's men 1
THE CAMP OUTSIDE NAMUR
Jesu whom I served in Africa do not let me die
this way ! "
Farnese leant swiftly down and caught the
Prince by the shoulder.
''Hush!" he said, "Hush!" and forced
him gently back into the cushions.
Juan resisted him with all his feeble strength,
his eyes glittering with terror.
" You are murdering me as Carlos was murdered
— and Escovedo," his voice was hoarse, broken,
but tense with fear, " as you will be murdered
when Philip is weary of you, I do not want to
die — I — will — ^not "
" Hush ! " said Farnese again.
Juan dragged away from him and crouched
back against the wall.
" I leave you heir," he panted, " to all my
honours, all my commands. Philip meant you
as my successor. I leave you heir to my death
of loneliness and exile. When did one of Philip's
servants escape this reward 1 "
The priest shivered and his figure bowed
together, but Farnese listened patiently like a
man waiting for the cessation of something that
soon must end.
The Prince's fear rose and swelled to a stronger
He thought that he saw in these two instru-
ments of the King a symbol of the two things
that had dogged his glory all his life, the powerful
cruelty of his brother that had used his gifts,
his successes, his popularity for his own ends,
lured him with the promise of rewards and always
withheld them, and the opinion of the world that
the degradation of his mother equalled the splendour
of his father and would always prevent him taking
that last step into royal rank.
It had prevented him ; he saw that now, he saw
how hopeless his ambition had been from the
first. . . .
" If I had my life again I would not serve
Philip," he muttered.
Then pain began to seize and grip him, and he
became unconscious of everything save the physical
agony ; he fell on his face and clutched the rich
mantles on which he lay, groaned and shrieked in
" He hath not much fortitude after all," said
Farnese, who had looked on suffering so often
that no anguish could move him ; his cold eyes
had many times rested on men and women flaming
at the stake with the same expression of cruel
indifference with which they now rested on this
man of his own blood, who had served his turn
and was no longer useful to the policies of Spain.
*' How long will this last ? " asked the priest.
" I cannot tell," ansvv^ered the Prince of Parma.
" He must have great strength."
" He had until he used it in the delights of
Italy," said Francisco Orantes. '' Such a life as
his, senor, does not make for old age "
" Escovedo ! Escovedo ! " moaned Don Juan.
" Help me ! Succour me ! I am burning — burning
to the bone, the marrow ! Jesu ! J^su and Maria ! ' '
THE CAMP OUTSIDE NAMUR
'* Ay, pray for your sins," remarked Farnese
sombrely, " or you will go to light the flames that
bm:n to all eternity."
" Nay, senor," said the priest ; " he confessed
and received absolution."
" Who shall absolve Philip ? " murmured Don
Juan, who had caught the sentence. " I wish I
had not betrayed Don Carlos. How awful it is
to die ! "
Drops of sweat stood out on his forehead, and
his fingers trembled on the brocade covering him.
" The war," he whispered, " the war."
He thought of the great armies sweeping to
and fro over the Low Countries, of all the toss and
turmoil of Europe through which he had moved
so gaily, so splendidly, of the infidel smitten in
Africa ; he did not think of his childhood at all.
Life seemed to have begun for him on the day on
which he had first met the King in the green
" Pray," urged the priest, " pray, senor."
He shook his head feebly ; he was not at all
afraid of God — only of Phihp. Besides, he did
not mean to die.
The dreadful pain was lessening in his veins ;
he turned over on his side and looked up at Farnese.
" Where shall we put your body when your
soul has left us ? " asked the priest.
The sick man's eyes gleamed.
"The Escurial," he muttered. "Philip, re-
membering Lepanto might give me that — if not,
then Our Lady of Montserrat — but I am not
dying," he added. " My life is not finished — you
must see that — my life is — not — finished."
An extraordinary feeling of peace came over
him ; he wondered at it and closed his eyes ; he
again saw the blue Sicilian seas encompassing
him and heard their lapping waves in his ears.
*' I will sleep now," he thought, " and when I
wake I will plan a victory — life is so long and I
am so young "
He smiled, for all the agony had ceased, and
he was no longer conscious of his body ; his head
sank to one side so that his face was turned towards
the wall. . . .
Francisco Orantes rose from his knees.
'' He died very gently," he said ; " his soul
passed as lightly as a bird to the bough."
Farnese made the sign of the cross, and his
figm^e dilated with pride, ambition and power ;
he went to the armour in the corner and picked
up the dead man's baton of command.
Philip buried his brother in the Escurial near
the great Emperor who was their father.
The Polander was a very innocent fellow who
came out of Germany to enter the service of my
lord Conningsmarke, a Gentleman of a great
Quahty at this moment in London.
He had taught the Polander some while ago
at the instance of Captain Vratz, who was an old
retainer of his, and who gave this youth a good
character, especially for dressing Horses after the
German Fashion. The Polander knew nothing
of my lord Count Conningsmarke, and nothing
about England, for he was very simple and ignorant,
being but of Peasant birth, but the Captain he
knew and loved, for this man had brought him
out of Evil Days in Poland, and his heart held
little else but a deep Affection for this Captain
On a Friday he came to London and inquired
for the Governor of my Lord at the Academy of
M. Flaubert and this gentleman sent for the Count's
Secretary ; and there the Polander lay on Saturday
night feehng very strange in this new City and
constantly praying that he might meet with Captain
Vratz soon, who had been to him such a Benefactor.
The next day being the 11th of February and
bitter cold, Mr. Hanson, the Governor of my Lords,
the young Counts of Conningsmarke, came to the
Polander and bid him make ready to be carried
to the Lodging of my Lord Charles.
This Governor seemed in a great Confusion of
mind ; he went over words twice when he spoke,
which was in the German language (for the Polander
knew not English) and the colour was up and down
in his Face and his hands a-tremble.
The Polander stood before him, very tall and
strong and humble, with his blue eyes clouded
with Bewilderment and Disappointment; for he
hoped he would be taken to Captain Vratz, and
presently dared to say as much, very timidly.
Upon this Mr. Hanson broke out in a kind of
" Would to God 1 " said he, " that this Swede
Vratz had stayed out of England, for I think he
will be the Engine of some harm to my Lord."
Then he went on to say that he was in no way
responsible for the Count Charles but only for the
other lord, Philip his younger Brother.
" But I must help a great man where I can,"
he added, and seemed Troubled.
The Polander Wondered he should speak so
to a Servant, but dare say no more but followed
him out into the cold streets of London. It was
bitter enough and the Polander was in Rags, but
the Buildings and the people so pleased him that
he took no heed of the Sharpness of the weather
but smiled to himself with pleasure at a City so
Fine. So they came to St. Martin's Lane where the
Count Lodged and in a room mean enough, high
up, a place strange for a Man of QuaHty.
" My Lord Lodged in the HaymarTcet,^^ said
Mr. Hanson, " but the Chimney smoked so that
he was fain to move " — and with that he opened
a Door and the Polander followed him into the
This was an ill habitation for a Gentleman,
being mean and low and of a poor Furnishing.
There was a fire on the hearth, very brightly
burning, and near the window a Bed, on which
my lord the Count Charles lay, wrapped in a
Flowered Robe of taffeta stuff.
He was a very young Gentleman, fair and pale,
with a look of fear in eyes of an unusual bright
blue ; at the entry of Mr. Hanson and the Polander
he sprang to a sitting posture on the Bed.
" This is the fellow, my Lord," said the Governor.
The Count gave the Polander a Look of a
** Are you trustworthy ? " says he.
" I will do anything for Captain Vratz,"
answers the Polander humbly Yet with obstinancy.
My Lord put his feet, which were in white
Satin slippers, very soiled, to the ground. " You
are in my service," he says swiftly.
" To Look after Horses," repHed the Polander
simply, " and to dress them in the German Fashion,
if it please your Honour."
The Count glanced at the Governor and said :
" This is a fellow of a great simplicity and well
Mr. Hanson answered with some uneasiness :
" Oh, I know not— Captain Vratz gave him a
good Character for faithfulness."
At this the Polander was very satisfied and his
eyes held Gratitude.
The Count, leaning on one elbow against the
Bed Post, addressed him :
'' What is your Name ? "
" George Borosky, my Lord."
" Well," said the Count of Conningsmarke, " it
is true that I wish you to dress horses in the German
fashion, for I beheve you are a good Groom and
I am here in England incognito to raise a Regiment
of Horse for the service of the King of England Who
is to enter into an Alliance with Swedeland and
Holland against France— indeed, there is talk of a
Surprise on Strashurg and my Brother has bought
one Horse already and is to buy more."
Here he stopped abruptly and the Polander
gave a salute after the Mihtary Fashion, not
knowing what to say and withdrew against the
Wall at the far end of the Chamber. Then my
Lord spoke to Mr. Hanson.
" Have you made those Enquiries ? " he asked.
" My Lord, I did ask the Swedish resident and
his answer was— that if you should Meddle in any
Way with Esquire Thynne you would have but
a bad living in England— but as for the Law of it,
he could not say."
" And for the Other ? " asked my Lord, in a
" He said, that if you should Duel Mr. Thynne,
lie could not instruct you as to what the Law
might be regarding your Hopes of the Lady Ogle,
Esquire Thynne's Wife."
" Monsieur Lienburgh knoweth nought ! " cried
my Lord impatiently ; " What said he as to
Riding Out in the Hyde Park on a Sunday ? "
" He said it might certainly be done, before
and after Sermon time."
My Lord seemed Satisfied with that and looked
again towards the Polander, who had heard all
this Conversation as it was held in the High Dutch
or German, but had made Nothing of it and was
only thinking of Captain Vratz.
" You are very Ragged," said the Count,
" and have never a Sword "
Then he questioned him — had he not been long
in coming ?
And the Polander answered Yes, and there had
been fear of the Ship being cast away, owing to
the High Storms, he having been twelve days
from Strashurg to Hamburg and fourteen from
Hamburg to London, instead of eight.
" Yes," said my Lord pleasantly, "' and I
feared you were lost and went to enquire of the
Ship at the 'Change, and I would have been un-
wilhng to lose you, for Captain Vratz tells me you
are a mighty Able Groom."
*' I do love Horses," said the Polander, " and
have trusted them always."
" No man of mine can go in such a coat," says
my Lord, *' but I have none to send to purchase
one nor can I go out Myself by reason of the physic
Dr. Harder gave me, for I must no wise be Chilled,
" Whj, I will do this Service for your Lordship,
very Heartily," answered Mr. Hanson.
" And a Sword also," said the Count.
" That also," said the Governor, " and Boots."
He asked my Lord then how his Illness went and
the Answer was — better, though the Ague was by
no Means gone.
" Now, fellow," said Mr. Hanson, " come with
me to make these Purchases."
My Lord took some money from the pocket
of his gown and gave it to the Polander.
" That is to discharge your Lodging at Monsieur
Flaubert's Academy," he said ; " to-night you shall
lie here." He spoke in a Languid Tone, but his
eyes had an Extraordinary sparkle and brightness.
]\Ir. Hanson now asked my Lord — How Much
he was willing to dispose of on a Sword ?
And he answered ten Shillings, and as much
for the Coat.
Mr. Hanson then carried the Polander to a
shop near and bought a riding Coat and a Pair of
Boots and there was some dijB&culty in getting
either large enough for one of his Bulk and Bearing.
They then went down St. Martin's Lane but
could find never a Sword worth a Groat ; then on
]VIr. Hanson went as far as Charing Cross and then
into a Cutler's and bestowed ten Shillings on a
Sword for a Servant, which could not be ready till
Mr. Hanson said he would call for it when he
came back from the Play that night and took
the Polander back to M. Flaubert's Academy,
where the Younger Count, a very Gay and Beautiful
Gentleman, was learning to ride the Great Horse.
The Polander Paid for his Lodging and waited
in the Academy feeling sad for loneliness till Mr.
Hanson came back from the Theatre and took
him again to the Cutler's ; but the Sword was by
no means Ready.
" 'Tis strange," cried the Governor, '' that a
Gentleman cannot get a Little Sword for himself
in a whole Afternoon ! "
" Well, sir," said the Cutler, " pray do not be
Impatient. I will send the Sword."
They then left the shop and went towards
St. Martin's Lane; it was now Snowing and a
Great Volume of Wind abroad.
When they reached my Lord's Lodging they
found him still in his Gown and Night Cap sitting
over the fire and he looked like a sick man save
for the great Light and GHtter in his Eyes.
He asked where his Brother was.
*'At his Grace of Eichmond's," said Mr.
Hanson ; " We were at the Play together and I
have ordered the Broadsword which will come anon."
They were talking without any Regard to the
Polander who stood stiff in his New Coat, Longing
to see Captain Vratz and to go to the horses he
was to look after (and he wondered where the
Stables might be as this was too HI a House to
have any). Now Mr. Hanson went up to my Lord
in moved fashion.
*' Think of tlie Consequences of this, Count
Charles ! " he said.
My Lord looked up in a kind of Passion.
" He puts Words on me that are no wise to be
borne ! "
" Is it for the words he Used or for the sake
of the Red Haired Girl you saw at the Hague V
asked Mr. Hanson, biting the end Curls of his
" He cklled me a Hector," said my Lord, " and
Laughed at my Horse — and, by God, you shall
leave the Lady Ogle Out of this ! "
" Your Lordship has not left her Out," answered
Mr. Hanson, '' for you bid me discover if you
would have any Hopes of her if you got rid of
her Husband "
At this Point the Count bid the Polander go
down to the Kitchens of the house and dine, and
he added that in this place he was known as Carlo
Cuski, and not by his Real Name.
Thereupon the Polander went ; there was a
Man and a Maid and a Boy in the Kitchen who
had no Language but English, so the Count's
man ate his meat in Silence and was presently
going to the place appointed to him to sleep in
when a young Gentleman, very finely Dressed in
Blue, came down, and speaking German, bade
him Come up to the Count, which he did and found
to his vast Joy, Captain Vratz with his Lordship.
" Come here. Fellow," said my Lord ; he stood
up in the Light of the Fire and his slight figure
in the Limp Gown, the Night Cap pulled over
his tumbled Hair, his pallid face with the feverish
eyes was in a Contrast with the Men of Lesser
Quality who were Splendid enough in cut Velvet
and Lace and Tassels.
Christopher Vratz lifted his Face flushed with
Fairness after the fashion of the Swedelander and
looked at the Polander.
" You are my Servant now, Borosky," said he.
" Yes," added my Lord. " I have given you
to Vratz," and he Shivered a little closer to the
Fire and Held out his hand to the Glow of it,
Regarding the three with Eyes so unnaturally
blazing that they conveyed a thrill of terror.
" Oh, dear sir," said the Polander, " this is
a Greater Joy than I looked for in coming to
He bent with more Grace than might easily
have been expected from his Bulk and kissed the
Count's thin hand in a humble Gratitude.
" This is a man," said Captain Vratz, " who
will do Anything for me — out of the Great Affection
he hath for my Person "
" Need you set him on a losing Game ? " asked
the young German, glancing at the pleased, simple
face of the Polander. " There is many an Italian
walking about the Piazza of Covent Garden who
would do the Trick for the Matter of Fifty Pounds."
At that my Lord looked up Sharply and seemed
Mightily out of Countenance and Captain Vratz
" That is in the Count's hands. I am his Man."
Now the Polander made nothing of all this
but only Wished to be away with his Master ;
and they made so Httle account of him that they
never abated their Talk but treated him like a
Dog that had just been bought by a new Master,
and so he took it himself and truly his Attention
was absorbed by a Broadsword he beheld on a
Table near, and that he Surmised was that ordered
by Mr. Hanson at the Cutler's at Charing Cross
and a fine Weapon too, from the Look.
Near this Weapon was a Black Peruke, and
the Polander wondered why a Gentleman of so
fair a face as my Lord should have so Black a
Wig and he surmised that it belonged to Mr.
My Lord walked about the bare floor and seemed
in some contained Passion of Excitement.
" It will be a Stain on my Blood," said he,
" but one good action at the Wars or one Fight
on the Counterscarp will wipe that away "
And he spoke like a Man exalted in his Courage
and ready for a Tragic Turn.
Presently the three — Vratz, Stern the German
lieutenant, and the Polander — went away, it being
then late at Night and Cold.
And before they went the Count gave the
Polander the Sword that Mr. Hanson had bestowed
Ten ShilHngs on, and the last that Fellow saw of
my Lord was the sight of him in the glimmer of
a dying Candle staring after the three of them
with a Face very Young, very 111, very Wild,
beneath the tumbled Night Cap.
The three of them went to the Captain's
Lodgings ; he lay at the Blach Bull in Holhorn,
in an ill Part of the Town.
Then the Captain called the Polander up to
his room and gave him to Drink and after a little
" What will You do for Me, George Borosky ? "
" Before God, Anything — for the great Grati-
tude I have to You."
At this Vratz Laughed and cast of! his Hat
and Wig and his face was Fresh and Ruddy as
a Rose under the Gold of his Hair.
" Look you, Borosky," he made answer, " there
is a Man in London who has put an insult on me —
and I did put a Challenge on him by the post
having no Gentleman to send, and he returned
answer by his Servant that I was not of a Sufficient
Quahty for a man of his Breeding to fight — and
this is a thing difficult to Avenge."
The Polander waited eagerly for his Part in this.
''It is Esquire Thynne of Longleat Hall,"
continued the Captain, " a Great Jolly English
Gentleman and a Notable Rake at Court — a man
very Rich and splendid — he will be riding along
the Mall to-morrow on his way to Church and it
is we three who must stop him."
With that he took a Blunderbuss from the
v/all and laid it in the great Hands of the Polander.
" As you love me," he said earnestly, " you
will put some bullet into this Tom Thynne."
The Polander stared at the weapon and at
his Master, then went on his knees, very Pale in
" This is plain Murder," he answered, very
troubled, " and I have Lived an Innocent Life,
even at the war, twenty crowns would pay for all
I took in Plunder and I have been Compassionate,
nor given to Treachery or Swearing "
" I ask you to do no Wrong," said Vratz,
*' only to Obey your Master — If a man will not
Duel how can one Come at him but this Way ? "
" It is a Just thing," added Stern, " to obey
those we have an Obligation to — and I am Pledged
to you, yet I am willing to be Instructed in the
Laws of England to discover what Penalty one
must Pay for this "
"Why, None," replied the Captain, "for we
will leave the Country by the first pair of oars
going to Gravesend, and should we be taken —
first we have a friend in that Noble Prince, the
Count of Conningsmarke, and secondly, all will
fall on me as the Principal and none on you as
the Agents or mere Engines of my Will — And
Afterwards," he added, " you shall be Eich Men."
" Not for Money," said the Polander sadly.
" I would rather spend my Days with Horses
than the Rich. I would sooner die Old and Com-
fortable than in Prison in a Strange Country — •
but I have promised to serve you and if God does
not directly tell me it is a Sin I will do this for you."
" You may trust me when I tell you it is no
Sin but an Act Necessary to Wipe out Dishonour,"
returned the Captain.
"I do trust you ! " replied the Polander
" yet I will also ask God about this matter."
Then the Captain laughed and dismissed him,
bidding him be Ready on the Morrow, and the
Polander went to a Bed set for him in a Garret of
the Black Bull. He was Much Troubled in his
Mind that the first Service asked of him by the
Captain should be a Murder and that on the second
night of his stay in a Strange Country he should
have such a Task put on him as to Shoot a Gentle-
man coming from Church, for it seemed an unmanly
What Penalties might follow he did not know,
for he was Ignorant of the Laws of England ;
to this he gave Little Heed for, however : he had
faith in the Captain and that Great Gentleman
who was his friend, Charles, Count of Conniags-
marke. As he sat in the Dark wondering where
the right lay in this Case he decided to make
Proof of it and to that end went on his Knees and
Recited the Lord's Prayer very Gravely and
Earnestly. And when he had finished he rose up
again and Searched in his Heart to see if he was
Strengthened against this Action ; but he found
no change in his Feelings : so he thought that if
it had been anything Wrong God would have
this Way told him ; so was Comforted and Decided
to Help the Captain.
Having come to this Resolve he lay down on
his bed, dressed as he was, and Chanced to Dream
of Poland which Country he had not seen this
Great While — but he saw it in the Dream very
Clear with the sparkle of Snow in Winter and the
bright- coloured dresses in the Streets.
He tliouglit he saw a Church too and dreamt
he stood on the threshold and was thinking with
much pleasure of Entering when he was awakened
by the voice of Christopher Vratz.
The Polander got to his Feet, Remembering
everything and the Captain put in his hand a
Blunderbuss and bade him be Silent ; the two
went down to the stables of the Black Bull where
was Ernest Stern and three Horses and it was
then about Seven of the Clock.
And the Polander, on seeing he was to be
Mounted was greatly Encouraged, for he believed
no evil could come to him when he was on the
back of a Horse, so took this for a Good Omen.
" I wish we had Another Man," said Captain
Vratz, " for Esquire Thynne is one to go with a
great Medley of Servants about him."
They mounted then and as they Rode out of
the Yard the German asked what this Mr. Thynne
And the Captain made answer that he was a
Man Well Known in London for his marriage to
Elizabeth, my Lady Ogle, last of the Percies, who
was heiress to Five Baronies and one of the richest
Women in the World ; she had been married
before, yet was but a child of fifteen and still under
Governance at The Hague and Mr. Thynne was
looked upon as a lucky Man to have all this Wealth
without the trouble of a Wife.
" The death of such a One will make a Stir
in England," said the lieutenant with an air of
Misgiving ; but Vratz bid him take Courage.
" For," he declared, " if there be any Penalties,
I will pay them all."
And the Polander Rode behind them patiently,
much Remarked by the passers-by for his foreign
air and Great Stature, and so they came to
the Mall where there was a goodly number of
And one of Them, who was a Young Man with
a Mirror in his hat, Pranking on a Sizeable Horse,
the Captain stopped and. Saying he was new come
to London and Desirous of seeing the Notables,
asked if Esquire Thynne had yet passed ?
The Englishman, making out this request with
some difficulty from the Swedelander's strange
accent, answered at length Courteously that Mr.
Thynne was Driving Out with His Grace of Mon-
mouth, and would be coming from Northumberland
House, where they had made a visit, anon, North-
umherla7id House being nearly at the End of the
Mall, on the river at Charing Cross.
So they waited and the Sun mounted the Snow
Clouds pleasantly but it was yet scarcely light,
and the Bells of the Big Churches near by sounded
in their first Ringing.
And after a few minutes a Coach and four
Horses came swinging on its Leathers with Six
Servants Riding at the Sides and Vratz knew the
Before came a Fellow with a Flambeau ; the
Captain rode Past him and Caught the Reins of
the Foremost horses, stopping the coach, and
Stern cried out to the Polander : " Shoot ! " at
the same time Threatening the Coachman. Like
one in a Stupour the Polander rode round to the
Side of the Coach, and saw the Handsome Face
of an Englishman with Brown Eyes looking out
of the window.
" Shoot ! " cried Captain Vratz.
And the Polander raised his Blunderbuss and
Fired into the lace-covered Bosom of Esquire
" Damn your Foreign tricks, I'm murdered ! "
cried the Englishman ; he fell back on the Seat
of the Coach and the Polander Turned and Galloped
away up St. James Street and Alhan Street with
the Captain and Stern after him ; and the Servant
with the Flambeau put a Pursuit on them as far
as the HaymarJcet, then could go no Further ;
but the Polander had Cast away his Blunderbuss
and that the Servant Caught up and carried back
to the Mall, where was a Great Press and Mr.
Thynne Dying with three bullets in him and the
People saying how his Grace of Monmouth had
but just left the coach and what a stroke that
was, for he might have been Murdered else.
And the three rode to my Lord's Lodgings in
St. Martin's Lane and asked for him.
" For it may be Well," said the Captain,
" that we ask my Lord to let us Lie at the Swedish
But when they answered his knock he was
told that the Count had gone early that Morning
to Windsor wearing a Black Periwig and in a
Coat he had borrowed of a Servant. At hearing
this news the Captain came back with a Look of
Death in his face.
" If he hath Fled to Gravesend " he said,
and They All went Back to the Black Bull and
Mounted to the Captain's Chamber and sat Still
and Silly, looking at each other.
" We have trusted You,'' said Stern, " and
there is your Word to it that we are Safe."
" I had the Count of Conningsmarke's Word,"
answered the Captain, " but he hath failed
" Will you Fail us ? " asked Stern.
The Polander said nothing but watched the
Captain in a Troubled Way.
The German got to his feet and laid his hand
on Vratz's Shoulder.
" If my Lord hath gone to Gravesend in a
Black Periwig — should not we go after him and
shp down the Thames to Margate where we may
likely enough get a Ship for Home ? "
The Captain looked up like one Undecided,
then in a moment was on his Feet, for there had
come a Great Knocking on the Door ; nor did
those without Long stay at Knocking but burst
open the door and Entered.
They were Constables and the People of the
Inn and in front of them a Man in Squire Thynne's
Liveries carrying a Musquetoon, and on seeing the
three he gave a Cry and called out :
'' That is the man did shoot my Master ! "
And the Polander saw that it was the Blunder-
buss he had Dropt in the Haymarket.
" Why do you put this on ?7s ? " asked Captain
Vratz in his ill English.
A Constable spoke to him and answered :
** We took this Musquetoon to the Maker
whose name is thereon, and he told us he had sold
it yesterday to one Captain Vratz who lodged at
the Black Bull.
" I do admit," answered the Captain, " that I
was at the shooting of Mr. Thynne, but I went
with the design to Challenge him, he having Re-
fused me Satisfaction, and I took these Two with
me as Protection, Mr. Thynne being a Gentleman
who has commonly a great Press of Servants
about him which he might have set on me. And
in the Melee my Servant fired and that I know
At this they were all three disarmed and arrested,
at which the Polander Wept mightily.
And when they had a Lodgement in Prison it
came to them that my Lord of Conningsmarke
had been arrested at Deptford by an Agent of the
Duke of Monmouth when he had been taking a
Pair of Sculls for Gravesend.
In the Prison they were separated and the
Polander sat alone till his trial and when they
Pressed him he said that he had Acted only as
His Master Directed and that was the Law he
had been brought up in — to obey his Master ;
and he added that not having been Strengthened
against the deed after the Kecital of the Lord's
Prayer he Concluded that God had meant him to
do this thing.
Stern also Confessed to the Fact and accused
the Captain of drawing him into a Snare, but
Vratz maintained his first Story and would not
bring my Lord into the Business.
And the Count of Conningsmarke denied all
Now this Trial was held before the Lord Chief
Justice and the other Great Judges with manifest
and open Fairness, according to the English Law,
even to have the Jury part Foreign and giving
all rights to the Prisoners, such as having an
Interpreter, one Vandore, who interpreted to them
all the English Spoken, putting it into High Duich
Yet there was Little Doubt as to the End of
this Trial, as all three Confessed to the Design
on Esquire Thynne and the Polander to the actual
shooting ; but Captain Vratz would by no means
bring the Count of Conningsmarke in, but took
the Whole Matter on his own shoulders ; but
the other two. Stern from Anger and the Polander
from SimpUcity, told what they knew of my
Lord's part in This.
Yet at the End it was the Count who was
Acquitted and the three Humble Ones who were
Condemned, and my Lord left Them to the Law ;
yet even T^^en Captain Vratz Persisted that he
was alone Guilty.
And when the Prisoners were asked what
they had to say for Themselves, the Captain
Vratz Said that he had not been rightly Examined,
Stern that he had gone into the Affair as Second
to the Captain and in that Capacity would end it,
and the Polander asked God for Mercy.
When in Prison these Three were seen by Dr.
Burnet and Dr. Horneck who knew Foreign
Languages and to both of these Priests Stern
and the Polander Confessed, but Vratz would
write nor say Nothing, but to their solicitations
Replied with great Composure that the Matter
was between him and God and that he Perceived
that they wished to draw him to Implicate the
Count, which he would by no Means do.
Dr. Horneck was Much Impressed by the
Innocent Lives these Men had led and by their
Devotion to the Captain and the nice sense of
Honour Stern showed and the Humble Ingenuous-
ness of the Polander, and he brought all three
together and exhorted Vratz to a Confession.
And Stern added his Words, saying :
" I Forgive you for having Drawn me into
this Business, for the Count of Conningsmarke
deluded you, but Repent now, for we are very
near the Judgment of God."
Thereupon Vratz fell into a passion, and gave
him Reproachful Words, saying he Lied.
" Put no Blame on my Lord," he said, " for
he is Guiltless."
And with that he was Going, when the Polander
" Give me a Word," he said, " for soon I
But Vratz looked at him with quick Kindled
" You too defamed my Lord," he said, " and
I thought you were a Faithful Servant." Then
he left them.
And the Polander Wept mightily.
*' The Two things I have most trusted In have
Betrayed me," he said, " first the Captain who
sadly Deceived me in this matter — then I had a
great Love for Horses and thought to spend my
Life in the care of them, but when this Late Mis-
fortune happened, I was on the back of One."
Stern asked if he might be Buried, not Gibbeted,
if he made a Written Confession, and they told
him, Yes, maybe, so he wrote what he knew of
Now the Night before their Execution there
came a Message from the Captain, Confessing
that he had drawn them into this Snare and asking
Upon which they Both Returned him a Message
of Great Affection and the Polander felt indeed
Happy and Almost Satisfied to die if he might be
on these Terms with the Captain.
So they came to be Hanged, on the Tenth of
March, in Pall Mall on the Spot where Esquire
Thynne had been Murdered ; and Vratz was
Bmied but the other two Hung in Chains, and the
Great Frame of the Polander hung near Camden
Town long after his crime had been Forgotten by
There was a Fine Marble put up in the Abbey
Church of Westminster to the Memory of Mr.
Thynne, and next year his Widow, the Lady
Ogle, married the Duke of Somerset, who was
the Proudest Man in England.
As for Charles Count of Conningsmarke, he
went to the Wars and became Famous for his
Achievements, but it was Believed that he was a
Haunted Man, and it has been Rumoured that he
Confessed to being Troubled, not by Mr. Thynne,
or either of the two Soldiers, but by the figure of
the Polander in the New Coat and carrying the
new Broadsword Mr. Hanson had Bought, smiling,
very humble and Grateful.
This Figure Followed him so Persistently that
his Death at the Siege of Argos in 1685 was a
Kelease from a Life that had become Unbearable.
THE EXTRAOEDINARY STORY OF
Grace Endicott hath had as remarkable history
as any woman of her times, and slander, calumny
and malice, as well as curiosity and wonder, having
noised and mouthed her story until it hath been
used as a scorn against the Nonconformists and
the town of Bedford, one who was well acquainted
with her here putteth forth the facts as they were
known to him, of the which he can solemnly attest
and sware the truth, by his faith in Christianity.
After this preamble he now giveth the case, leaving
the judgment thereof to the charity of the human
heart and the Eye of God Ahnighty, only adding
for himself that never was there a stranger instance
of the deahngs of Heaven and Hell with man and
Mrs. Endicott was born at Edworth, in the
county of Bedford, in the year 1652, being the
period of the high glory of our late the Lord Pro-
Her family was of the yeomanry and of con-
siderable substance ; she early lost her mother
and had but one sister, younger than herself.
Her father being a pious man, she was brought
up to walk in the ways of righteousness, and was
well educated beside in the accomplishments of
her sex; and she became a hopeful sprightly
maiden, full of winning graces, so that she drew
unto her many likely swains, yet would have none
of them, being contented enough in her present
In the year 1672, Mrs. Endicott being then
twenty years of age and her sister married into a
house of her own rank, her father left his farm
in charge of a steward and bought a residence in
Bedford, where he came to live with this remaining
Here Mrs. Endicott, by reason of her personal
endowment and handsome fortune promised, found
herself in the midst of much courtship and flush
of friendship from the better sort and received
many a treat and comphment ; in fine she began
to lead a life of uselessness and vanity and to lose
pleasure in everything but the gauds of the
Full often have I seen her setting forth in a
little chariot with pearls on her head and a marvel
of silk and braid about her person and a coat on
her back of sable fur that would have brought a
And many of those who watched this maiden
thought the Father of Darkness had set some
springe to catch her soul, so different was she
from the meekness of her tender years, and this
was a curious thing withal, for her people had
ever leant to Puritan doctrine, and during the
civil war had stood for the Godly side. And those
THE STORY OF GRACE ENDICOTT
who thus made talk of the lightness of Mrs. Endi-
cott's behaviour soon found a cause for it in the
person of Gilbert Farry, who was an attorney of
Now this Farry, for divers reasons, was neither
loved nor liked ; the main argument against him
being that he and his family were unknown in
the neighbourhood where he had lived but a few
years, and therefore he was, in a manner, a
foreigner; nay, some held it that he was foreign
indeed, and had false French or Italian blood in
him, for his complexion was unnaturally dark and
his temper sudden and gusty.
Though he had money enough, and indeed
lived above his station, yet he never honestly
proclaimed how he came by it nor openly spoke
of his parents or former residence, and this close-
ness caused people to take up a dislike to him and
predict no good of his end.
There was something strange in his dress, for
he greatly affected outlandish colours of a bright-
ness ill-befitting a Christian, and often when he
went abroad there would be a set of boys of the
baser sort calling after him, for he had the afflic-
tion of a limp that caused his garments to be the
more noticeable ; yet methinks it true that he
overtopped the Bedford gallants in presence and
speech, and the old wives said there would have
been many a wench glad enough to take him, for
there was nought definite against him and he never
missed his church-going, though the mahcious said
it was but fear of the fine that sent him there.
Now it seemed that from the moment of their
first meeting this Farry took no manner of heed
of any woman but Mrs. Endicott, and she gave
him no discouragements, and her father was
friendly enough and clearly looked upon the young
man as a suitor, and when wise folks shook their
heads he would laugh and bid them wait till affairs
were riper. Inasmuch as the whole town took
notice of this courtship which went on in open
freedom a wonderment began to grow that Farry,
having screwed himself into the favour of the father,
did not demand the hand of Mrs. Endicott.
And there was much pursing of lips and many
a round declaration that Mr. Endicott would have
done a wiser thing in lending his countenance to
one of his own knowledge and county.
Now about this time, it being near Christmas,
Mr. Endicott gave a ball, and the expectants said
that his daughter's betrothal would follow this
feast, and using curiosity as a cloak for carnal
inclinations many worthy folk went who would
have served the Lord better by remaining by their
The dance was continued till late, indeed when
every one became much animated, for Mr. Endicott
was open-handed with his meat and drink, and
there was music of fiddles and a harp.
At midnight Mr. Farry led out Mrs. Endicott
for some new fangled step from the court (and
there were many wanted to hear how he came
to know it and how he had found occasion to teach
her), and they came down the room hand in hand,
THE STORY OF GRACE ENDICOTT
she in a pink taffeta with trimmings of silvered
silks which had been bought in London and her
hair trimmed and dressed like a city Madam at
So they came down the room, and all eyes were
on them ; they looked only at each other, and it
was commonly averred afterwards that the look
on the face of Mrs. Endicott was that of one whom
earthly passion hurrieth forv/ard to inevitable
actions, maybe of folly or wickedness.
Still gazing at him, she changed hands in the
centre of the room, and moving round for the first
figure gave him her left.
Then of a sudden her radiant face withered ;
she cast an affrighted glance at her feet, recoiled
like one who has stepped on a springe and with a
shriek fell on the ground, passing into fit after fit
with many frantic gestures and maniac words.
This thing did completely put an end to that
festival, and was blazing matter for talk, for Mrs.
Endicott lay ill for many weeks and gave for
reason for her sudden disorder that she had had
a vision of Hell.
Yea, she declared with floods of tears to all
who came about her that Hell itself had opened
at her feet, and she gave such details and spoke
with such earnestness of the horrid spectacle of
smoke and flame and the faces grinning up at her
and the hands endeavouring to pull her down that
there was none who dare entirely slight or dis-
credit her tale lest they should be casting scorn
on one of the Judgments of God ; so all made
agree to tell her that it was a forewarning brought
on her by her careless life and she used all haste
to make amends.
She sold all her gauds and fine things and gave
the money to the needy ; she came often to the
prayers and devoted herself to household stufi as
was beseeming one in her situation. No longer
did she go prinking hke an idle wanton lady, but
went in a humble habit without adornment and
took up thrifty ways and a sober conversation.
Nor would she have any manner of intercourse
with Gilbert nor even speak of him ; nay, he was
of all others the creature she most hated to hear
tell of, and though she could give no reason for
the aversion she discovered yet she maintained
it against her opposition.
Her father argued this matter with her with
some heat, declaring that the young man deserved
some kindness from her who had so lately en-
couraged him in a way that had made public
comment ; in short, being still close in friendship
with Mr. Farry, Mr. Endicott made every endeavour
to bring him again into his daughter's favour, yet
without success, for she was resolved in this and
was by no means to be moved.
She gave as her reasons the horror she felt at
the sneering irreverent way Mr. Farry had of
talking of holy things and the general looseness
and idleness of his life.
To such a height was her hatred against him
now raised that when one day in springtide he
did send her a wattle basket full of the first rose
THE STORY OF GRACE ENDICOTT
blooms she cast them from her with a shudder,
and let them lie in the garden, where the sun
sucked the life from them ; yet was she commonly
fond of flowers.
Yet did she have to suffer him about the house,
for her father every day drew nearer with him in
friendship, and even drew up a will leaving most
of his goods to Mrs. Grace on condition of her
marriage to this Farry.
At this time a wonderful man preached at the
Baptist Chapel in Bedford ; he had been a soldier
in the Parliamentary Army, and of great profanity
and wickedness, but having been marvellously con-
verted he had taken to preach the pure Word of
God, and there were a many went to listen to him,
some to scoff, for he was unlettered to be talking
of learned things, but many to pray, moved by
the truth that was in him.
Now to hear this preacher, who began to be
well known in these parts, went Grace Endicott,
and ofttimes took her father and her sister and
brother-in-law, for, as hath been told, the family
leant to the Noncomformist views. After but a
little while Mrs. Endicott became wrapt up in
the spiritual Hfe and an ardent convert to the
preachings of this poor preacher, Mr. John Bunyan,
whose doctrines filled her life with gladness and
Surely she was like a woman transformed, and
took no dehght save in the meetings at the Baptist
Chapel, which were often enough broken by Mr.
Bunyan being in Bedford Gaol, for the King had
lately issued strong laws against the Noncon-
formists and had no mind to suffer them to worship
At first Mr. Endicott was much uplifted by
these meetings, and incHned to turn from worldly
things and to uphold his daughter in her devotions,
but after a while Gilbert Farry worked on him
again, and he went but seldom and his fervour
Yet truly he in no way interfered with his
daughter, but allowed her her will in the matter,
and though Farry screwed more and more into
his confidence, yet Mrs. Endicott was unmolested
in her devotions. About the year 1678 Mr. Endi-
cott sold his house in Bedford and returned to
his farm at Edworth, which was at some distance
from the chapel where Mr. Bunyan preached.
Y^et Mrs. Endicott was nothing daunted by
difficulties of road or weather, and attended the
meetings as regularly as any grave elder of them all.
Now this persistency of hers gave occasion for
Gilbert Farry to influence her father's mind in an
evil fashion ; it was not in nature, he said, for a
woman young and excessively comely (and who
had been addicted to gay things) to be so blinded,
addicted and possessed by religious zeal as was
Grace Endicott. He hinted that John Bunyan
was a personable man and one who had not so
long been reformed from the most carnal ways of
the Devil ; he related how the preacher and the
maiden held long conversations, going to and from
the chapel, and he spread these scandals until
THE STORY OF GRACE ENDICOTT
they were known to all Bedford. It happened
that while things were in this pass, in the winter
of this year '78, Mr. Bunyan was appointed to
preach and administer the Sacrament of the Lord's
Supper at Gamlingay, which is some distance from
Mrs. Endicott made her preparations to go, but
when it came to asking the consent of her father
it was angrily withheld.
Whereupon she fell into a great travail of mind
and besought him with utter earnestness and
piteous entreaties to permit her to attend this
meeting, until he weakened before her importunities
and gave his consent on the two conditions — that
she did her household before she went and that she
returned the same night at a godly hour.
On the Friday, therefore, Mrs. Endicott, having
well looked to all her duties, left her home and went
to her brother-in-law's house, where she was to
wait for a Baptist minister who was to escort her
Here she waited, but the hour became late and
the minister did not come ; then did Mrs. Endicott
implore her relative to lend her a horse, but he
had not one which was not at work, save only
that on which he and his wife were riding to the
Hearing this, Mrs. Endicott broke into a passion
of despair and paced about the apartment in an
extremity of anguish, and made such a plaint
that even her own sister thought she showed an
excess of sorrow. In the midst of this scene Mr.
Bunyan himself came riding past, and Mrs. Endi-
cott had him stopped and bid her brother-in law
ask if the preacher would take her upon his pilHon.
And down she came and stood on the doorstep
to second this request.
" Will you take me, Mr. Bunyan," she asked,
" for my soul's sake ? "
And he was mute, for he was both loath and
unwilling, for he knew the hard things said of him
and her in Bedford town.
" It is for my soul," says Mrs. Endicott again ;
and so he must be persuaded, and take her up
behind him through the darkling lanes to Gamlingay.
And the chance was that they had not gone a
mile before they passed the man Farry standing
by the cross roads, who closely looked at them.
Mr. Bunyan did not salute him, not being of
his acquaintance, and Mrs. Endicott stared at
him with eyes that might have been of glass, so
blank they were ; thereupon Gilbert Farry went
softly to Edworth and spoke to George Endicott,
and said —
'' I have seen your daughter riding pillion with
John Bunyan to Gamlingay as if they were man and
Now whether or no she pictured Mr. Farry
poisoning her father, Mrs. Endicott stayed to the
end of the meeting and seemed wrapt in the ecstasy
of worship and the joy of the moment.
Yet when the meeting was over her sorrows
began again ; Mr. Bunyan was riding another way,
and there was no manner of means for her to get
THE STORY OF GRACE ENDICOTT
home. There was much delay and argument, and
then she found a woman who had a cart and who
would take her as far as her sister-in-law's house, but
from there was no convenience, yet mindful of her
promise to her father Mrs. Endicott set out on
the dark, miry and rough roads and so came to
her home, spent with walking and affrighted with
loneHness. Still it was not more than eleven of
the clock, and it caused her amaze to see the windows
dark and the door locked.
With trembling hands she knocked at the door,
and her father came to an upper window with a
candle in his hand and demanded who was there.
"It is I, father, come home wet and dirty,"
replied Mrs. Endicott. " I pray you let me in."
" Nay," he answered. ** Where you have been
all the evening you may go all the night — and
never do you cross my threshold until I have your
promise not to see John Bunyan again."
*' That is to give up my soul's life," she said ;
" and I cannot."
Thereupon he shut the window and took away
Mrs. Endicott did plead desperately and tearfully
but to no avail, for the bitter night winds took her
words away and her father heard not.
Then, the storm coming up apace, she was fain
to go into the barn, and there to lay her down on
the straw till the morning.
When her father made his round he saw her
there, with her clothes frozen on her and her eyes
wet and wild.
" Good morrow, father," slie said. " I have
had a dreary night, but it had been worse had not
God sustained me."
" No matter for that," he answered ; " here
you stay until you promise never to frequent
meetings again and never to speak to John
Thereupon she hung upon him with vain tears
and entreaties, but he would have none of it with-
out her promise, and that she would in no wise
give ; so at length he flung her from him roughly,
and she lay along a byre and wept for comfort-
At noontide up came her brother-in-law, and
made the endeavour to conclude a peace, but this
was beyond his powers, for George Endicott was
obdurate and his daughter would not give her
promise ; neither would she leave her father's
house, but dwelt without it for several days,
living on such food as the pity of the servants
gave her and sleeping on the ground or in the
stalls of the horses.
And day by day came Gilbert Farry and tempted
her with promises of love and comfort, but she
would have none of it, but remained a beggar
before her father's door.
On the tenth day her father came to her and
again demanded of her her promise ; and if she
gave it not, he added, she should no longer have
even the shelter of his barns, but be cast out upon
the high-road among the knaves and gipsies.
Grace Endicott rose up from the straw and stood
THE STORY OF GRACE ENDICOTT
erect in her torn, soiled garments, with her hair
unbound and her cheeks stained with weeping.
" Sir," she made answer, " I stand between
Good and Evil, and you would have me choose
Evil. This is my immortal soul you ask for. For
certainly I was in the power of the Devil from whom
I was rescued by Mr. Bunyan, and if you deny me
his converse, then I am no better than lost."
But her father was in no way moved, and asked
if she would promise or go upon the roads.
" Well and well again," she said with much
wildness, *' I promise, but it is a lost soul you take
into your house."
Thereupon her father took her by the hand
and led her in, and as she crossed the threshold
she said again —
"It is a damned soul you bring home, my
In the parlour was a feast spread and wine
laid out and Gilbert Farry waiting, and he took
her to him with no excuse and kissed her.
*' So you have won," she murmured, and made
So for a month she lived quietly in her father's
house, until one day near on Christmas she met
Mr. Bunyan in the market-place of Bedford town,
and he was being taken to prison for his preaching,
and there were many of his following going with
him with words of encouragement and love. But
Grace Endicott denied him, and looked as if she
did not know his face, even asking one who stood
bv, " Who is that fellow ? "
At this John Bunyan looked through the press
and spoke to her, quoting scripture —
" Whosoever shall deny Me before men, him
will I also deny before My Father which is in
Heaven," he said.
" I obey my father," answered Mrs. Endicott.
" He that loveth father or mother before Me
is not worthy of Me," spake Mr. Bunyan, and
went on his way to gaol.
Now all the rest of that day, being Tuesday,
Mrs. Endicott was very silent ; those among whom
she moved marked it with concern. The next
night she came running through the darkness to
her sister's house, all wild and beside herself, and
implored them all to come home with her, which
they did in a great fright.
Upon the way she told them that her father
had fallen ill, and was now dying.
This they found true enough ; George Endicott
was crouching over a hastily lit fire and bemoaning
his sins, and in httle while without further speech
he died. Mrs. Endicott was taken to her sister's
home on the way, it being then dawn, and they
met Gilbert Farry, and told him Mr. Endicott was
"It is no more than I looked for," said he ;
whereupon Mrs. Endicott shocked those with her
in the cart by laughing, and his remark and her
manner of taking it were remembered afterwards.
The end of this business was that the doctors
made discovery that George Endicott had been
poisoned by a drug given him in his ale ; and a
THE STORY OF GRACE ENDICOTT
drug of this nature had been bought by Mrs.
Endicott in Bedford a few hours after John
Bunyan had spoken to her ; this, together with
the circumstances of her late dispute with her
father, her being alone with him in the house, the
suddenness of his illness and some broken words
he had let drop in his last moments, was evidence
enough, and Mrs. Endicott was arrested on the
awful charge of murdering her father and lodged
in Bedford Gaol, to the great scandal and confusion
of all Nonconformists and damage to the cause
of John Bunyan.
The trial is within the memory of all, and no
account of it is here required. Mrs. Endicott
defended herself with prudence and spirit and
strove to cast the guilt on the man Farry, who was
the principal witness against her ; and, indeed,
his known spite towards her, the fact that Mr.
Endicott's will was in his favour and the misty
kind of character he bore gave her some handle,
but since she could no wise explain the drug she
had bought save lamely saying it was for cleaning
tiles and that she knew not its deadly properties,
the case looked ill against the woman. Neverthe-
less, her youth, her comeliness, her known piety
and long sweet behaviour, the influence of her
relatives and the feeling of the people pleaded for her,
and there was no one who doubted that she would
be acquitted when on the last day of her trial she
startled the court by rising up and declaring herself
guilty and a helpmate of the Devil from the moment
she abjured John Bunyan in her father's barn,
In fine slie vowed herself a witch, and baring
her arm showed them a purple hoof-print on the
flesh that was known for the particular mark and
sign of Hell. After this she refused to speak
again either to her relatives or to the clergyman,
and came forth to be hanged next day in a green
tabinet gown with red ribbons. Not a word spoke
she while bemg led through Bedford towTi, but
was composed and seemed in a meditation.
AVith her own hands she tied down her skirts and
put up her hair, and so without a prayer or any plea
for mercy was hanged in full sight of all Bedford.
There was afterwards found in her gown a
paper which was taken possession of by me, being
one of the clergy present, and here published by
me that all the facts be known to all who care to
read. As for Gilbert Farry, he came to the execu-
tion and stood close to the gallows, and when she
was dead went westward, leaving his properties
in his lodgings, nor was he ever seen or heard of
again in Bedford.
And his belongings were principally books in
pagan languages and gaudy clothes, which were
burnt before the Town Hall, for there was a great
distrust of this man, it being thought that he had
brought to ruin the soul of Grace Endicott.
Here followeth the paper written by Mrs.
Endicott the day before she died : —
" Bedford Goal, Wednesday, March 25th, 1679.
" Powerful is evil and hard to escape, and wise
are those who step aside from the world which
THE STORY OF GRx\CE ENDICOTT
is set with s^^ringes into one of which I fell, who
was once a Chrisom child and spun Church linen
at my father's door.
" When I was in my tender years I thought of
neither good nor evil, but went my way in empty
vanity ; then, behold ! I had a warning and
beheld Hell in its flames and saw that Love was
but the Devil and so let go his hand.
" Soon there came a man, wonderful and strong,
who took my soul from the embrace of Evil and
set it on the road to Heaven and for six years I
laboured in that thorny way, and thought I had
" Yet was the Devil busy, and pursued me and
set his hounds on my soul, and his traps for my feet,
but the preacher bade me hold fast to him, and
surely he was drawing me Heavenwards. Yet
through weakness of body I denied him, and the
Devil kissed me, and I was a damned soul, and the
net was so tight about me I could not move, and
being damned could not pray.
" Yet I brooded still on Heaven and the
Preacher, and conceived a great wrath against
him who had wrung that denial from me, so having
the seal of the Devil on me I slew my father and
saw him die in the night. And being put on my
trial cast spells till they thought me innocent.
Yet I was presently weary of this, and did admit
my master and to-morrow shall die and be re-
turned to that Great Wickedness of which I am a
part, yet once was a saved soul, grace to Master
" May He whose name I dare not write save
others from what befell Grace Endicott."
Many who read this paper did say she was a
mad woman, and many did say she was a witch,
and Gilbert Farry the Devil himself, while others
swore she was crazed with love for John Bunyan
and was innocent and the old man died natm:ally
(for, indeed, the doctors afterwards fell out about
his having been poisoned), and yet others held
she had lost her wits through the terror she had
been in through denying her faith — and who shall
make truth out of all this tangle ?
THE CUP OF CHICORY WATER
" Madame se Meurt ! Madame est Morte ! "
Vaniias vanitatum, dixit Ecdesiastes,
Vanitas vanitatum, et omnia vanitas,
" nuit desastreuse! nttit effroyable, ou retentit tout a coup
cotnme un eclat de tonnerre cette efonnante nouveUe: Madame se
meurt I Madame est morte ! "
Madame found herself at the pinnacle of her desires ;
she had returned to France with news of the treaty
of Dover signed, with the friendship of her brother
for Louis de Bourbon, with the prospect of yet
another conquest to offer to the glorious nation
that had adopted her ; her triumphant charms
had sealed the league between England and France ;
she had seen Arlington put his name to the paper
that rendered void the Triple Alliance. Her in-
fluence, they said, and the languishing eyes of
Louise de la Querowaille had done it. It was
the coup de theatre, though a secret one, of a
brilliant and unscrupulous policy ; it was praised
by M. de Louvois and by the King ; it was the
most dishonourable bargain a sovereign of England
had ever set his hand to ; it was false, lying,
treacherous ; it involved the ruin of two nations
to satisfy the greed of one man and the ambition
Also it was the seeds from wliicli many years
after sprang the hydra-headed league that laid in
the sHme of defeat the glories of invincible France.
But Madame never knew of that.
All who spoke to her praised her — ^her, the
daughter of an Enghsh King and the sister of an
Enghsh King — for this treaty which betrayed
the English people and their allies ; she had been
always courted for her beauty, her rank ; now she
found herself courted for her political influence
and her skill in the affairs of men — most exquisite
of compliments for a clever woman proud of her
The greatest nation in the world was beholden
to her ; there were many to tell her so. After-
wards the Dutch called her a wanton woman, and
the English people cursed her as they cursed her
brother. But Madame never heard them.
There were two Queens at the Court of France,
but Madame was above either ; she was the most
brilliant, the most admired princess in France,
which is to say in the world.
Madame was Henriette-Anne d'Angleterre,
Duchesse d' Orleans, sister of Charles Stewart
and the sister-in-law of Louis de Bourbon, grand-
daughter of Henri Quartre and his Medicis Queen,
great-granddaughter of Marie Stewart, on both
sides of a rich illustrious blood, yet born in the
midst of civil war in the beleaguered town of Exeter
and brought up a penniless exile.
Now, at five and twenty, at the apogee of her
fame with these things forgotten ; her brother was
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restored to her father's throne, and had avenged
himself, God knows, on the EngUsh people, Madame
lending her delicate aid.
Nine months ago Henriette-Marie de France,
Madame's mother, had died, and Madame had
listened to her funeral sermon, preached by the
Bishop of Condom. As his glowing eloquence fell
on her ears Madame had wept, her gay, light heart
touched for the first and perhaps the last time.
She resolved to alter her frivolous, pleasure-
loving useless life ; she appointed the Bishop her
confessor, and made, it may be, some little progress
on another path to that which she had followed
His grace of Condom called her a virtuous
princess, and, in common with all who knew her,
loved her for her gaiety, her charm, her sweet-
ness ; his one-time reproof had melted into flat-
teries now : there could be no censure for her who
had detached England from The Triple AlUance.
Her return from England had been celebrated
by a succession of balls, fetes, masques ; she had
re-conquered France with her dazzling English
beauty, her graceful easy manners, and the
brilliant success of her mission. Flushed and
roseate from her victory she descended like a god-
dess into her throne in the most glorious court in
Europe ; she was the idol of the people too, " the
most adorable princess who ever lived," one of
her ladies called her. There seemed no word to
express her complex charm.
In the midst of her gorgeous triumph Madame
was a little grieved, a little stung by the obvious
coldness of Monsieur ; his jealousy had been the
background of her Hfe for the eight years since
she had married him. Defying him, she had come
more than once very near to giving him cause for
open outraged clamour, but her wit, her courage
had saved her ; it had always ended in Madame
laughing at Monsieur.
She laughed at Monsieur now ; it had become a
habit, though, knowing him to be something justified
and not being shallow herself, there was a Httle
ache to be hidden beneath her sparkling demeanour,
an ache strengthened perhaps by a memory of
the Bishop of Condom's words and a vague desire
to follow them. But there was all her life, she
thought ; now there was no time for anything
but gaiety, applause, the sweet incense of adula-
tion. In the court that toasted Mme d'Armagnac,
Louise de la ValHere, Madame Valentinois, Madame
de Soissons, she was reckoned the most beautiful
woman ; she believed that the King loved her ;
in her heart she beheved that he, Adonis and Mars
among men, loved her, the unattainable. If she
had been free — or even perhaps the wife of any
other man — she might have been the Queen of
She had coquetted with many ; the splendid
de Guiche, the romantic de Vardes, Marsillacand
Monsieur le Grand Ecuyer, but — the King
The queen and Monsieur paid her the infinite
compliment of being furiously jealous ; the
d'Armagnacs, the Mancmis, the la Vallieres and
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the lesser beauties spread abroad to dazzle the
eyes of majesty were openly overshadowed ; Eacine
wrote for her " Berenice," and all who saw it
performed knew who the heroine stood for — and
who was Titus.
The past was stormy but glorious, the future
vague but golden ; she had the praises of Louis
and the endearments of Charles in her ears ; she
had come from England where she had queened
it for a period of meteor-like splendour to France,
where she was permanently enthroned.
" This is a glorious year for me," said Madame.
*' I think that I am happier than I have ever been."
It was the twenty-ninth of June, the year 1670,
eight days after Madame's return to France. She
and Monsieur had gone to St. Cloud ; Madame
loved the chateau ; despite the commands of her
physician, M. Vyelen, she bathed every morning
in the river that flowed down from Paris past the
park and wandered at night in the moonlight
thatwas so chillyafter the heat of the day. Madame,
whose short life had been torn with several fierce
illnesses, was careless of her health. This day,
the twenty-ninth of June, she had passed quietly.
Madame de la Fayette had arrived at St. Cloud,
and Madame had been pleased to see her ; they
had walked in the garden gaily and Madame had
talked of her stay in England, of the King her
brother ; speaking of these things pleased her.
She laughed, and was very cheerful. An EngHsh-
man was painting Monsieur and Mademoiselle, her
eldest daughter ; she went to see these pictures,
and spoke again of England to Madame de la
Fayette and Madame d'Epernon.
Dinner was served in the studio ; afterwards
Madame lay along the couch and slept, her head
almost on the shoulder of Madame de la Fayette.
Monsieur sat for his portrait ; his extremely
handsome, cold face was turned towards his wife ;
he appeared not to notice her, but once he remarked
that her countenance had changed curiously in her
sleep. Madame de la Fayette, looldng down,
noticed that this was so. Madame did not look
beautiful or even agreeable now ; the lady reflected
that it must be that her loveliness lay in her spirit,
but reflected again that she was wrong, for she
had often seen Madame asleep and never seen her
look less than beautiful before.
Monsieur talked indifferently of many things.
Presently the sitting was concluded, and Madame
awoke. Monsieur remarked that she looked ill;
she took up the glass at her girdle and surveyed
herself. She wore a tight-laced gown of pearl-
coloured satin, embroidered with wreaths of pink
roses ; it well suited her blue-eyed lovehness.
She dropped the mirror.
" I look well enough," she smiled.
Monsieur left the room ; he had expressed his
intention of going to Paris.
Madame descended with Mme Gourdon into
the saloon that looked upon the terraces, the
fountains, the parkland. It was a beautiful after-
noon, lacking but a few moments of five o'clock ;
the salon was filled with sunshine that showed the
THE CUP OF CHICORY WATER
dark walls, the polished floor, the furniture heavy,
gilded, and Madame walked up and down talking
to M. Boisfeane, the treasurer of Monsieur. She
complained, laughing, of a pain in her side, and held
her hand to it as she walked ; the long window
was open and a breeze blowing in rufiled the long
auburn curls back from her face. Presently Mon-
sieur entered ; he wore a pink velvet riding suit
and was booted and spurred ; he looked at his wife
as if he would have spoken to her, but changed his
mind and crossed to the window.
" I asked for a cup of chicory water," said
Madame, ignoring him. " Where is Mme de
Mecklenbourg ? "
As she spoke that lady entered with the Com-
tesse de Gamaches.
Madame smiled at them ; Monsieur turned in
the window recess and looked at her ; his hands
held his gloves behind his back ; the sunlight
made stars of his spurs and twinkled on his sword-
handle. Madame crossed the long room, taking
no heed of him ; her satin gown rippled with light.
She held out her hand delicately.
" I have such a pain in my side," she said.
Chicory water had eased her before. She
Mme de Mecklenbourg handed the cup to Mme
de Gourdon, who gave it the Princess.
Monsieur began putting on his gloves, looking,
however, at his wife. Monsieur de Boisfeane was
choosing a flower from the vase on the side-table,
with an idea of fastening it in his cravat.
The heavy pendulum clock struck five. Madame
When she had finished she moved a step away
from the three ladies, the cup in one hand, the other
clasped to her heart.
" My side," she said in a tone of agony ; the
colour rushed into her face. " Ah ! — the pain — I
can no more."
They stood staring at her, Monsieur de Boisfeane
with a pink rose held in his hand.
" Ah, my God ! " cried Madame ; she was now
livid, and the cup fell from her grasp. " Hold me
up — I cannot stand."
The Comtesse de Gamaches took her under the
arms, for she was falling backwards, and Mme de
la Fayette took her hands.
As her husband did not move, Mons. Boisfeane
dared not offer his aid. The four ladies supported
her to the door ; she walked with difficulty ; her
head, with its fair hair outspread, sank against
Mme de Gamaches' shoulder ; her pearl comb,
that had been her mother's, fell out of her locks
and rattled on the smooth floor.
Monsieur, moving for the first time since her
outcry, picked it up and ordered Mons. Boisfeane
to call a doctor.
Madame, moaning, almost fainting, was half
lifted, half dragged to her chamber.
This was a handsome room full of the summer
sunshine and overlooking the rose terrace. Madame
sank across the chair before her dressing-table ;
Mme de la Fayette held her up while the other
THE CUP OF CHICORY WATER
ladies unlaced her. In an instant they had her
undressed and in a night-gown ; they lifted her
into the great red-curtained bed.
Her constant complaints and the tears in her
blue eyes startled and astonished them ; they
knew that she was usually patient under pain.
" You are in great anguish ? " asked Mme de la
" It is inconceivable," she answered. " What
have I done ? "
She threw herself from side to side in her agony,
clutching at the pillows and her thin night-rail.
Mme de Gamaches drew the silk curtains over the
bright sunlight and the terraces of St. Cloud. Her
first physician came, stared down at her as she lay
He said she had caught a chill from her bath-
ing, that it was nothing ; he could offer no remedy.
She sat up in bed, shuddering with pain.
'' I am wiser than you think," she cried. " I
am dying — send me a confessor."
The doctor repeated that it was nothing
dangerous, and left the chamber to prepare a
Madame fell on her side again; her sufferings
were horrible. She opened her eyes from a swoon
of anguish to see her husband holding back the
bed curtains and looking down at her.
She spoke, panting from the pillow.
" Ah, Monsieur ! — you have ceased to love me —
a long while now — but I — I have never deceived
He turned away without a word.
She lay now on her back exhausted ; the curtains
were drawn so that she was enclosed in her bed.
Her sick eyes traced the pattern on the canopy
above her ; she heard her ladies whispering.
She thought of de Guiche smuggled into her
apartments under the guise of a fortune-teller, of
his letters — three, four a day — when she was last
sick ; she thought of Marsillac, of de Vardes, of
M. de Lorraine and of the King
She thought of the King's brother, her husband,
of how she had angered, flouted, wounded him,
of how she had laughed at him.
All at once she sat up and dragged the curtains
" Look to that water I drank," she gasped.
" I am poisoned ! " As she spoke she saw that
Monsieur was still in her chamber, and she seemed
confused. *' They mistook one bottle for another,"
she said, and fell down again in the bed.
A little tremor of horror ran through the
ladies. Madame de la Fayette looked at Monsieur ;
he appeared neither startled nor terrified.
" Give some of the chicory water to a dog,"
he said, " and watch if it be poison or no."
But Mme de Gamaches said that the cup she
had given to Madame had contained the last there
was in the bottle.
It was now half-past five ; the doctor returned
and gave Madame a glass of viper powders mixed
with milk ; as she dragged herself up to take it
she noticed that the sun was still shining brightly
THE CUP OF CHICORY WATER
through a chink in the curtains, and it shot across
her agony ; it was a strange thing that the sun
ghmmered still over the terraces, the rose-beds,
the terraces of St. Cloud, and the broad river
running from Paris.
The loathsome mixture did her no good ; she
was smitten with a deadly sickness, and lay quite
still, shivering. M. Vyelen felt her hands, icy
cold, her feet as cold.
'' I am poisoned," she said ; " I am dying."
The room was crowded with people ; many of
them were weeping. The noise of it came heavily
to her ears ; her eyes were closed.
She wondered why they should weep ; nobody
was there whom she had imagined fond of her;
neither De Guiche, Marsillac, M. de Lorraine — her
brother, De Vaudes or — the King.
And these ? Would any of these care ? She
trusted none but the last.
How far to Versailles ? W'hy did they not
send for him ?
The curtain was drawn again ; this time Mme
Desbordes. She declared that she had made the
chicory water herself and had drunk of it. This to
comfort Madame ; it was not — as to the last — true.
Madame persisted that she was poisoned. She
sat up in bed ; the tears lay in her eyes.
" Give me an antidote," she said through
locked teeth. She was not going to die, she told
herself ; it was too horrible. People did not die
like this in the midst of glory. She clenched her
hand against her side and demanded an antidote.
Sainte-Foy, the valet de cliambre of Monsieur,
brought her a draught composed of Jesuit's bark
and pulverised mummy. Monsieur had sent it,
he said ; the doctor could recommend no better
antidote. She drank it, shivering ; the eyes were
Her ladies whispered and sobbed together ;
there were now so many men and women in the
room that she felt the air close and heavy. She
implored Sainte-Foy to open the window ; the
doctor forbade it.
With that she fell back, tossing in the grip of
pain, crying out that she was poisoned.
M. Vyelen brought her a glass of oil ; she forced
it down, shuddering with nausea.
Then after the administration of several horrible
nameless drugs she lay in a half-stupor.
The pain had ceased to be localised ; it shuddered
through her limbs like her very blood and seemed
one with the thick air about her.
Her thoughts raced at a fever pace ; she saw
the towers of Exeter, the first thing she could re-
member ; she saw the mean room in Paris where
her girlhood had been spent and the waves tossing
in the channel as she stood on the deck of the ship
by her mother's side : a man in cut velvet was
there — George Villiers, the first man to profess
himself mad for love of her.
Then masques, festivals, adorations, ballets
danced with the King, snatched interviews with
De Guiche, passionate letters from De Vardes,
hunting parties with M. de Lorraine, little scenes
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with Monsieur, with the Queen Mother, — her last
great triumph only a few days ago — and now ?
Not the end? Oh, God! Oh, Christ! Not
the end !
" She is better," whispered Madame de la
Fayette, seeing her lie still.
She opened her poor tortured blue eyes.
*' The pain is always the same," she said,
" only I have no strength to complain."
Then after a moment —
" Is there no remedy for this agony ? "
They wept and whispered and talked. Monsieur
was in the ante-chamber. The doctors seemed
bewildered, frightened ; one felt her pulse ; it
was beating furiously. She complained of heat
though she had tossed the bedclothes off and torn
open her night-gown ; but there were so many
people in the room, and they pressed so close to
the bed that she obtained Httle air.
The cure of St. Cloud had arrived ; they
argued in the ante-chamber whether he should be
admitted or not ; to let Madame see a confessor
was to admit that she was dying.
She had now been ill for three hours. The
room was full of the yellow Hght of lamps and
candles ; some of it penetrated through her bed
curtains. A spasm of horror shook her. What if
she never saw the sun again ! She resolved to
live at least till dawn — so her thoughts, panting
with her pain.
Monsieur came to her bedside ; she opened her
eyes and looked at him as he stood holding back
her curtains. He had a spray of jasmine in the
buttonhole of his pink coat ; she noted that. He
had not worn it when she had fainted in the saloon ;
since then he had found time to fix it there.
" Will you see the confessor, Madame ? " he
asked. How little he had changed since she had
first known him ; she looked up into his cold face,
and their eyes met.
" No," she murmured, and her heavy lids fell.
" I am not dying. I shall be better soon."
The light hurt her eyes ; she was glad when he
dropped the curtain and turned away.
How she had lied to Monsieur and laughed at
him — especially laughed at him — never with malice ;
now she was prostrate, helpless before him.
She called Madame de la Fayette.
" Cannot you do anything for me ? " she
She was told that they had sent to Paris for a
doctor, to Versailles for the King's physician.
" Versailles," she repeated ; her eyes lit.
Madame de la Fayette put her arm about her
and held her up in bed ; she seemed for the moment
a little eased of her agony.
M. Vyelen roused her as she lay in this half
swoon to bleed her arm.
All her poor vanity was roused ; there was a
great ballet on Thursday — she might be there yet —
and her arms were her especial beauty.
" My foot ! " she pleaded ; " Monsieur, bleed
He insisted ; her husband came and added his
THE CUP OF CHICORY WATER
authority ; she must be bled in the arm if M.
Vyelen commanded it.
She protested still and moaned ; Monsieur
helped to support her while the doctor bared her
She looked so pale, so worn with pain, so patient,
she lifted her eyes with such a look of dumb help-
lessness that Monsieur was troubled and turned
his face away.
The doctor opened a vein ; she shuddered to
see the blood run into the basin ; she began to
make complaint when all his bandaging would
not stop the bleeding and her pillow began to be
stained with the quick-spreading red.
Monsieur Vyelen had lost his nerve and cut
too deeply. Madame de la Fayette had to hold
Madame's arm up. Monsieur moved away ; the
sight of blood made him sick.
Madame, lamentably feeble, strove with a
clutching fear of death and demanded the con-
fessor. They endeavoured to dispersuade her,
vowing she was better. She shook her head with
such a look of anguish that they cleared the room
and brought the priest.
Madame de la Fayette remained, holding her up.
She was too weak to do more than repeat the
formula of the church. WTien the priest had gone
she lay back and tried hard to think of her real
sins, but hopeless confusion engulfed her.
God was so shadowy. No one had ever told
her what He wanted of her ; she had thought
very little about Him, very little about death.
She wondered if it would ever be remembered
to her that she was very young. What did it
mean to be good ? She had never wilfully injured
any one, she had never felt wicked ; but she hoped
God would remember she was very young. For a
while this thought gave her some ease ; then it
flashed across her mind that the Queen was no older,
and the Queen was virtuous, obviously virtuous.
La Valliere also ; she knew Louise de la Valliere
was a good woman and one whom she had shame-
Surely her sins were not difficult to remember
now. She fell out of Madame de la Fayette's
arms and lay silent on the pillow. The room had
filled again ; the King's physician, M. Vallot, had
He was an old man and pompous ; he came
to the bedside and Madame lifted her head.
*' Thank you for your attention. Monsieur,"
she said. " But I am poisoned. Unless you can
treat me for that " She sank down again.
Monsieur Vallot smiled.
There was no danger, he said ; it was merely
the pain that frightened her. He retired to con-
sult with the other doctors.
M. le Prince came to see her ; she seemed pleased
and tried to look at him, but he wore a black and
gold brocade, and the candle light on it dazzled
her. She half closed her eyes.
" I am dying," she murmured.
M. le Prince was greatly moved ; he tried to
tell her that she was better.
THE CUP OF CHICORY WATER
She shook her head and asked what time it was.
" Nine o'clock, Madame," he answered.
She asked if they might have the window
open, and complained of the heat ; but no one
dared for fear of the doctor.
Then Madame caught hold of Monsieur le
Prince's arm so as to draw him down to her, and
breathed the question she had so longed to ask.
" The King — does he know ? Is he coming ? "
The news was at Versailles, he told her ; but
no one thought her dying — she was not dying.
Monsieur came to her bedside. M. Vallot, he
said, had come to him four times and assured him
on his Hfe that there was no danger ; the other
doctors had agreed with him, and he had returned
Madame looked at the pink figure of her husband
and the jasmine drooping in his buttonhole.
" I know my state better than the doctors,"
she said ; *' and I think there is no remedy."
Her husband moved away with M. le Prince.
Every one in the room seemed talking together ;
their voices echoed in her head horribly. She
tried to compose her thoughts, but could not.
If she might only have some respite from her
pain ! Why did not the King come ?
Mme d'Epernon brought her a draught of senna
that M. Vallot had ordered.
She drank it, and Mme Gamaches, approaching,
said that the King had sent for news.
" Tell his Majesty I am dying," said Madame.
Not content with that, she asked them to send
M. dc Creqiii to Versailles to say that she was in
Meanwhile no remedy had given her any ease ;
she asked if they could not bring her something
to assuage her anguish.
M. Vyelen answered that she must wait ; in
two hours the senna would relieve her.
" Oh, my God ! " cried Madame. '' If you
were in my pain you would not speak so quietly
For a while she tossed and twisted from side
to side. People surged in and out of the room ;
none of them believed that she was in any danger ;
the doctor insisted that she was not, that in a
while the pain would pass, that the coldness of
her hands and feet was only an ordinary symptom
of a chill.
Presently she called out that she would be
moved ; the bed had grown hot and uncomfort-
able and intolerable. There was a little bed in
her dressing-room ; they wrapped her in a blue
silk mantle and Monsieur and two of her ladies
carried her there. She was shght — of the weight
of a child.
The clearer atmosphere of the dressing-room
and the cool bed seemed to relieve her ; she lay
still, swathed in her mantle, her auburn hair, that
was marvellously fine, in disorder on the pillow.
On the table by the bed stood a couple of candles,
and by the light of these they saw her face more
clearly than when she was in the curtained bed.
And it startled them.
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" Do the candles trouble you ? " asked Mon-
sieur, his voice unsteady.
" No, Monsieur," she answered. " Nothing
troubles me. To-morrow morning I shall be
Why did not the King come ?
As she had eaten nothing since dinner, they
brought her some supper on a silver tray ; Mon-
sieur showed some tenderness in holding it for her
and in insisting that she should take something
which at first she could not bring herself to ; but
at last she thanked him with a look and drank
some soup. All at once her agony became so
terrible that they thought she must die on the
instant : she shook and stiffened with torment,
like one at the stake ; her face turned an ashy
hue and glistened with moisture ; the pupils of
her eyes contracted and dilated.
*' I am poisoned," she said.
Some wept to see her cruel sufferings. Mon-
sieur sat by her side and held her hand.
There was a commotion in the ante-chamber — •
in the bedroom ; the door was flung open, and a
gentleman in brown and gold, carrying his hat,
entered, behind him M. de Crequi.
'' The King," said Monsieur.
' Louis came half-way across the dressing-room.
" The doctors wish to see you. Monsieur," he
said ; he was very pale and frowning.
All the light in the chamber was about the bed
of Madame, where the candles burnt in their silver
sticks and shone full on her pillow.
All beauty had been wiped from her face like
paint from a mask. Against the blue of her robe
and the ghmmering hue of her hair her face was
like gray wax ; the blood had come through the
bandages on her arm in a red stain — but he, to her
vision was as godlike, as golden glorious as ever.
As he came up to her she controlled her pain
with an heroic effort.
" Sire, you lose one of your truest servants
to-night," she said.
He answered in great agitation —
"' You are not dying ; I will not beheve it "
He seemed afraid to come too near to her ;
she spoke calmly, with a world of wild feeling in
" You know I am not afraid of death — but I
am afraid of losing your good thoughts "
" Talk of God, Madame," he repUed hoarsely.
" Louis — I am dying," she said. " Come and
speak to me — close."
She made a Uttle feeble movement with her
hand, and the King came up to her bed.
" I am poisoned," she repeated ; it seemed
she wished to drive him to accept the statement
to accuse some one.
" l^ou show great courage, Madame," he said,
and looked at her in a terrified manner.
" I have never been afraid," she repeated,
'* but I do not want to die."
" I will see your doctors," he said. " There
must be some remedy."
He turned away, seemed glad to go.
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Madame clutched hold of Mme de la Fayette.
" I am horrible. Give me a mirror."
She reached out and caught up a heavy glass
from her dressing-table ; her frail strength could
hardly Hft it. She looked in it a second, then
dropped it on the quilt.
" Madame de la Fayette," she said, " my nose
has shrunk "
The lady could only weep. It was true ; her
nose had sunk into her face with a ghastly and
corpse-like effect. She tossed herself about ; whether
in bodily or mental agony it was impossible to tell.
Mme de Gamaches came to say that Mme de la
Valli^re and Mme de Montespan had come together.
" Admit neither of them," said Madame. She
sent Mme de la Fayette out to them.
The two would share the crown she had left.
Why had they come now ? They must be glad
she was dying — not la ValHere perhaps ; she was
a gentle woman.
It was now eleven o'clock, and the doctors
suddenly informed the King that there was no
hope ; and those symptoms that two hours before
they had vowed meant nothing they now declared
the certain signs of gangrene and approaching
death, and advised that Madame took the Holy
The King accused them of losing their heads.
Monsieur fought his way into the dressing-room
where Madame lay and told her, in an agitated
manner, what they had said.
"So I have their permission to die ? " She
gave a tragic smile and fixed her eyes on her
husband. " Where is the King ? "
As she spoke he returned with the Queen and
Mme de Soissons.
Madame lay silent ; the King approached her
bed ; he railed against the doctors : he seemed
" I am no physician," he said, " but I could
have suggested thirty remedies they have not
tried, and now they say there is no hope."
He stood irresolute, looking at her ; the candle-
light could give no colour to his fair face. She
could not beheve that he would not send away
the others and sit by her till the end ; she waited
for that. For some tenderness on his part, some
passion, some regret, she waited ; he came up to
her bed, kissed her hands and bade her adieu.
" Adieu ! " she echoed. She thought she saw
tears in his eyes. " Do not weep for me yet,
Sire. The first news you hear in the morning will
be of my death ; weep then."
She turned her face away from him and he
withdrew with Mme de Soissons. Hearing him go,
she moved sharply and opened her eyes.
Close to her stood the stooping figure of Maria
Madame looked at her curiously ; a few days
ago she had seen another Spanish Queen with the
same look of grave suffering in her face, the butt
of her brother's court. How often she had laughed
at both of them — but now — she suddenly stretched
out her arms with an eager gesture.
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The Queen's face changed ; she moved back.
" God forgive you, Madame la Duchesse," she
said in a voice torn and broken. " God have
mercy on you." With that she burst into tears
and hurried from the room, the light running
down her silver dress.
Madame was silent ; she lay with her hand
over her eyes until they came to move her back
into her own bed that had been re-made.
Then she asked for the King.
He had returned, she was told, to Versailles.
She never mentioned his name again. With his
departure all hope and desire of life had gone ; he
had fled, forsaken her. She almost wished to die
now, so that she might have respite from her
The Marechal de Granmont was brought to
her bedside ; she told him that she was poisoned
and bid him farewell.
She began to cough.
*' It is the death cough," she said. ** Do you
remember how my mother coughed just before she
died ? " She then asked how long she had to live,
and expressed again her desire to confess.
The King had gone and the doctors had said
there was no hope.
She thought no more of life ; she made no
complaint of her terrible and sudden death, of her
cruel agonies ; she made no reflection on the
bitterness of dying in the midst of triumph, in the
flower of her youth ; she tried to face the certainty
of approaching Death with what courage she might ;
she tried to realise a thing that till now she had
never thought of.
She confessed again to M. Feuillet ; he was a
stern priest, and exhorted her in a severe fashion.
When he had finished a Capuchin Father, her usual
confessor, began to speak to her.
His discourse wearied her ; she was trying to
realise God for herself. The room was full of
people ; she saw them in a blur behind the figures
of the two priests : she heard their talking, their
sobbing. She noted the lines of her bed curtains,
of her coverlet, and these things troubled her.
Presently another figure came to her bedside.
After a moment she knew him — Lord Montagu,
the Enghsh Ambassador. She thought of her
" Tell him — that none loved him better than
I " Her voice failed.
My Lord answered her in English.
" Are you poisoned, Madame ? I have heard
it said. Is it true ? "
" Yes. But in error — I accuse no one. Do
not tell my brother ; he might wish to take
Here M. Feuillet interrupted ; she had spoken
in English, but he had caught the word " poison."
" Think of nothing but God, Madame — leaving
these earthly matters."
She held up her hand.
" My Lord — that diamond ring ; take it to
He drew it from her finger.
THE CUP OF CHICORY WATER
" Tell him I regret nothing so much as his grief.
Tell the Duke of York— that— also."
As she said no more the Ambassador drew back
into the crowded chamber.
Madame became weaker ; an intense chillness
had succeeded her heat ; her hands and feet were
cold ; it seemed to her that her heart had almost
stopped. With a sudden unutterable pang she
remembered her keys. Monsieur would get them ;
he would read her papers, her letters. If she had
only known last night
Now he would see how she had lied to him
She strove to put this thought from her ; he
was the master now and she helpless.
The Capuchin continued his discourse ; she
prayed him, very sweetly, to leave her in peace
for a while.
She received the Holy Eucharist ; to her it was
a blur of gold vessels, a murmur of words. She
fainted three times while they administered it.
Another doctor arrived ; he advised a bleeding
in her foot.
" Then you must make haste," she whispered.
Her head was whirhng ; she felt that the room
had grown immense, that a great multitude was
about her — talking, whispering, sobbing.
She never asked for her children and no one
thought to speak of them or bring them ; but' they
sent for M. de Condom.
She felt her foot bared and the prick of the
lancet ; as they bathed it they cried out she was
dying. Very httle blood came.
They gave her extreme unction.
She felt herself now in a soft darkness, striving
for the light ; she thought that this light would
either blast or comfort her — and that it was God.
She called out for her husband ; he came
" Will you leave the room now, Monsieur ? "
she asked. " Have you my keys ? "
" Yes, Madame."
" Be merciful," she whispered piteously.
*' Adieu, Monsieur."
He embraced her silently and went away,
leaving her to her darkness.
The clock struck two. M. de Condom arrived ;
she saw him, heard that he was speaking to her
but she did not know what he said. The lapping
darkness was wrapping her ; she saw through it
glimmering points of candles and weeping faces ;
she saw, too, Exeter towers, very plainly, and the
laughing eyes of M. de Guiche.
Then the mists cleared, and she beheld every-
thing in a bright, strong light. She turned to a
woman who bent over her pillow and said in
" When I am dead give M. de Condom the
emerald ring I am havmg made for him."
Her natural courtesy spared his thanks by
speaking in a language he did not understand.
Her agonies were suddenly ceased ; she turned
on her side with a soft sigh.
" I think I could sleep," she said to M. de
Condom. '' May I, for a little— sleep ? "
THE CUP OF CHICORY WATER
He said " Yes," and that he would go and
pray for her. He descended the steps of her bed ;
he had hardly crossed the room before she called
to him in a sweet voice —
" It has come. I am dying."
He returned to her bedside and held out the
crucifix. She half raised herself ; her pale, lovely
hair hung about her blue wrap. She took the
crucifix in her hands and clasped it to her bosom.
The darkness was lifting — behind Exeter towers ;
she saw the Thames as she had seen it from the
windows of Whitehall ; she heard the priest's
voice reciting the prayers for the dying. Her
lips were on the crucifix ; she gave the responses,
but her thoughts were not in the words. The
light brightened into a dazzle that blotted every-
thing out. She let the crucifix fall and sank back
on her pillow. The clock chimed the haK hour.
She moved her lips convulsively and died — after
nine hours of agony.
The King was asleep at Versailles and Monsieur
was in her private cabinet, weeping furiously and
tearing up the multitude of her love-letters by
the Hght of a trembling candle flame.
M. de Condom, preaching her funeral sermon,
displayed her as a Christian Princess, entirely
THE BURNING OF THE VANITIES
Being an Account of the Last Day of Carnival
AND the Vision of Girolamo Savonarola
in the City of Florence, 1497
" Behold, the sky shall be darkened ! Behold,
it shall rain fire and flame, stones and rocks ; it
shall be wild weather. I have placed ye between
four winds," saith the Lord — namely, prelates,
princes, priests and bad citizens.
" Fly from their vices ; gather ye together in
charity. Fly from Rome, Florence, and come
to repentance ! The Lord saith : ' I will debase
the princes of Italy and trample on the pride of
Rome ; then, Italy, trouble after trouble shall
befall thee, trouble from this side and from that —
rumours from the east, rumours from the west,
from all sides rumour after rumour.'
" Then men shall yearn for the visions of the
prophets, and shall have them not, for the Lord
saith, ' Now do I prophesy in my turn.' "
So ended the sermon of Fra Girolamo, preached
from a temporary pulpit erected in front of the
church of Santa Maria del Fiore, the last day of
the Carnival of the year fourteen hundred and
ninety-seven, the third year since the expulsion
THE BURNING OF THE VANITIES
of the Medici, the third year of the Friar's rule in
The monks of St. Mark's were gathered about
the pulpit, and round them the Piangoni, the
active supporters of the Friar ; beyond them the
crowd filled the Piazza from end to end, a crowd
reverent, silent, excited.
It was a windless spring ; the odours of the
flowers in the fields without hung in the breezeless
air and filled the city streets with perfume. Above
the fine straight lines of the houses and the majestic
shape of the church the sky hung pure of cloud
and deeply blue as an early violet.
Fra Girolamo paused, gripping the smooth
edge of the pulpit, and looked across the gathered
He wore the habit of the Friars of St. Mark, a
loose coarse brown robe and a hood and shoulder-
piece in one that fitted closely round his face and
neck. He was of the middle height, stooping a
little and gaunt ; his features were harsh and
rudely modelled, his complexion dark and sickly,
cheeks and forehead lined with deep furrows, his
nose a heavy aquiline, his eyes large, expressive
and of a sparkling grey tint ; his thick but mobile
lips were at that moment compressed in a firmness
that had the sweetness of true strength. Truly
that expression of noble gentleness illumined the
whole ungainly countenance, softened the un-
lovely lines and gave divine dignity to the common
As he stood so, motionless, the monks began
to sing psalms and the crowd went to their knees
on the paving stones of the great Piazza, their
coloured garments shifting and changing in light
and shade as they moved. When the men's voices
sank on the last pulse of the holy music that rose
like incense on the clear thin air, Fra Girolamo
took the Host, and raising it with his right hand
lifted the left in blessing of the kneeling press of
The great and stately door of the church was
a fitting background for the frail figure holding the
Host of God which gleamed in the lucid rays of
the sun that struck straight from heaven on it,
like a mystical jewel fed with inner light.
Fra Girolamo flashed his eyes over the crowd,
among whom he could distinguish several of the
Compagnacci, adherents of the vanished Medici,
and many of the Arrabbiati, his bitter foes who had
threatened to revive the old orgies of the Medicean
rule, the pagan and splendid carnival of Lorenzo,
called the Magnificent, now for years since dead
A strong excitement shook the slender frame
of the Friar ; his countenance became blanched
with the intense emotion that inspired him. In
a trembling but powerful voice he cried —
" Lord, if my deeds be not sincere, if my words
be not inspired by Thee, strilvc me dead on the
The Host was lowered and the people rose from
their knees ; but the Friar remained in the wooden
THE BURNING OF THE VANITIES
Now the crowd drew back and made way for
a strange procession that was wending across the
It was headed by four fair-headed youths
attired in white, who bore between them a marble
figure of the Infant Christ, pointing with one hand
to a wreath of thorns and raising the other in
benediction ; this was the work of Donato di
Bardi, a famous sculptor. After came a company
also in white and carrying in their hands red crosses,
singing the lauds and hymns of Girolamo Benivieni
in sweet and eager voices.
Behind them followed men and women soberly
dressed who collected from the crowd, holding out
on silver trays the alms they received ; they were
begging on behalf of the Monte di Pieta, and had
already amassed more gold than had been given
in charity in Florence during a year of the old
Next there came a vast number of children
decently and quietly dressed, some singing, some
repeating prayers, all carrying, dragging or support-
ing between them a strange and varied number
of objects — books, dresses, pictures, statues, masks,
false hair, boxes and cases of perfume, lutes, viols,
mirrors, ornaments, gauds, manuscripts, cards,
dice, cosmetics, chess-boards, cups and balls of
gold, and all manner of rich, precious trifles and
beautiful gorgeous examples of art.
These were the vanities that had been collected
during the Carnival by the very children who,
under the rule of Lorenzo, had sung and danced,
fought and played profane games in the streets
they now traversed in orderly procession ; then
with the Carnival verses of the Medici on their
lips, now with holy hymns.
From every house in Florence they had
demanded all vanities to be given to them, and
when they received the offerings they sang a
devotional work composed by Fra Girolamo. Now
laden with these relics of the old pagan rule, they
were making their way to the Piazza dei Signori,
there to complete the purging of Florence by
publicly burning the vanities that had been so
long her temptation and her curse.
The Friar descended from the pulpit and joined
the procession in company with his personal sup-
porters ; chanting and rejoicing, the children
made their joyful way, dragging with them the
trophies of luxury and wantonness, whose perfume
of musk, ambergris and nard gave a heaviness
to the air as they passed.
Fra Girolamo held himself, as was his habit,
modestly, and kept his eye low in real humility ;
but in his great heart was a wild exultation that
this city of his love had responded to the agonies
of his exhortation and was turning from the
wickedness of Borgia and Medici to the strong
face of God.
Beneath his rough and long robe beat a spirit
so lofty and enthusiastic that had it not been
hampered and held down to earth by the poor
enfeebled body it had walked on the heads of all
of them and conversed with Angels.
THE BURNING OF THE VANITIES
But since He who made the soul of this Friar
directed these things for His own ends, Fra Giro-
lamo, who bore in his bosom a burning Hght of
truth that might have served to redeem the world,
worked in the wicked, lovely city of Florence and
spent his strength to redeem this little circle of
When the procession reached the Piazza there
was found to be a great eight-sided pyramid there,
built up in the centre of the square and reaching
near as high as the Palace of the Signori ; there
were seven stages to this, one for each of the
deadly sins. On the apex stood two grotesque
and glittering figures, robed in gemmed satin and
wearing high-coloured crowns ; one was King
Carnival, the old monarch of the wanton Medicean
orgies ; and in his monstrous, under- jawed face
and princely garb, in his straight heavy locks
and the velvet cap under the circlet of sovereignty,
might be traced a mahcious likeness to the magni-
ficent Lorenzo, purposely contrived by the artificer
as an affront to the banished House.
The other figure was Lucifer, horned, black,
and hideous, bearing in the lap of his scarlet robes
seven little images representing the seven mortal sins.
The procession paused ; the men and women
arranging themselves under the Loggia de' Lanzi
and along the Pinghiera, while the children advanced
two at a time, and deposited their loads on the
various platforms, where the soldiers of the Signori
arranged them in piles from the bottom to the base
of the pyramid.
So much had been collected, so many and various
were the costly offerings, that several hours passed
before the final vanity was cast on to the heap
and the children retired to a great circle round the
Piazza ; but all this while there had been no sign
of weariness or impatience on the part of the people,
who continued with great spirit and gladness to
sing their lauds and hymns, mingled with denuncia-
tions of the Carnival.
Fra Girolamo stood back from the pile with
his hands folded in the sleeves of his robe ; his
face was largely concealed by the shadow of his
hood, which he had partially drawn forward,
and he conveyed neither by word nor gesture
fanatic rejoicing or common triumph. Rather
was his mien sad and grave, as if he weighed
what was being done and pondered on that far
greater cleansing of Florence of which this was but
a symbol — the cleansing of the hearts of her citizens.
Truly when the last child cast down his burden
and withdrew, it was a marvellous sight of worldly
splendour to behold ; all these gauds and glories
cast together in this heap under the calm spring
sky, half in the shadow of the palace and other
noble buildings and half sparkling and glittering
in the clear gold of the early sunshine, fainting
in the approach of afternoon. Eich and valuable
were these vanities, worth many thousands of
ducats ; a merchant of Venice had offered to buy
them for the vast sum of twenty thousand crowns,
and the portrait of this man was flung on top of
the other baubles.
THE BURNING OF THE VANITIES
Carnival costumes were there of satin, silk and
tinsel ; chaplets and garlands of false flowers ;
locks and wigs of artificial hair, masks painted and
gilt ; necklets, bracelets and brocade shoes, girdles,
ribbons and playing cards ; chess-men in ivory, silver
and ebony ; fans in feathers dyed bright colours ;
books of profane poems with pictures tinted and
gilt ; lutes, viols and pipes painted and carved ;
boxes, bottles and caskets of cosmetics, powders,
philtres and charms ; statues and busts of pagan
gods and goddesses, white marble, veined marble,
and time-stained alabaster ; mirrors set in copper,
gold and silver ; toy daggers for ladies with handles
of jade, sardonyx and emerald ; watches of crystal,
of filigree, of enamel ; caskets of perfumes ; paint-
ings of wanton figures, of beautiful women, of
heathen scenes ; velvet purses embroidered with
armorial bearings ; gauntlets stitched thickly
with silver thread and pearl ; mantles edged with
vair and sable ; sword-hilts fringed with knotted
silk and gold ; pins for the hair set with rubies and
sapphires ; false faces and gaudy finery for the
carnival ; statues in bronze, in gilt, in silver ;
enamel cups and drinking-horns bound with a
rim of precious stones ; cushions of brocade and
down ; boxes of ointment, of unguents ; phials
of rare perfumes ; caskets of sweetmeats, bags of
confetti, dice, parti-coloured playing balls, and
many trifling things composed the pile. And with
the glimmer of the gems, the shining of the gold and
silver, the soft gleam of the rich stuffs, the flash of
glass and crystal, the strange fantastic look of
mask and carnival garment, it seemed as if the
ransom of some monarch of the east, a pasha of
\ Turkey or some potentate of Rhodes or Candy
Isle was gathered there.
Now an excited and trembling silence of ex-
pectancy fell upon the crowd ; four of the soldiers
of the Signori stepped forward with flaming torches
that showed pale and smoky in the daylight, and
as Fra Girolamo raised his hand they lit the four
corners of the pile, the interior of which was filled
As the flames hesitated, crouched, then seized
hold and caught their prey, the trumpeters of
Florence blew a blast of triumph, the bells broke
out from the palace and the people gave free vent
to their wild enthusiasm.
The Friar did not move nor even lift his eyes
to the opulent sacrifice ; the thick soft smoke
spread sideways in a sudden little gust of wind
and half obscured his figure.
The people burst out of their ordered ranks ;
they laughed, shouted, sang their spiritual lauds
and crowded about the huge costly bonfire in a press
of delirious pleasure ; the Piangoni stood near and
by the aid of long poles thrust the vanities deeper
into the flames and cast back any that had slipped,
chanting the while the hymns of Girolamo
The Friar maintained his position ; his lips
moved as if he ardently communed with himself ;
so absorbed was he in his own meditations that he
did not notice a man standing close, and also
THE BURNING OF THE VANITIES
motionless amid the circling and excited throng,
who was observing him with intense and peculiar
This man, although he wore the sober mantle
of an ordinary citizen, and though he appeared to
be there in sympathy with the general religious
enthusiasm, was nevertheless in air and appearance
one of the Arrabbiati or Compagnacci, who intrigued
with the outcast Medici and hated the Friar, though
they submitted to a force they could not withstand
with safety as yet.
He was wrapped so completely in his dark
cloak, the hood of which was well drawn over his
face, that had any been free enough to observe him
they would have had difficulty in judging of his
person and character ; the thick folds of the
common stuff, however, could not disguise the
virile grace of his figure, the beautiful poise of his
head and the delicate shape of his feet and of the
hand that clasped his hood at the chin.
The excited people and friars, breaking into
a kind of religious dance, ran round and about this
man, and in between him and Fra Girolamo ;
but he did not move nor once take his eyes from
the equally still figure of the Friar, save to occasion-
ally lift them to the pjnre of the Vanities, now a
burning cone of flames from base to apex, from
which rose thick columns of sweet, heavy-scented
The slow Italian dusk was closing in ; the sky
deepened above the palace and the towers, the
roofs and domes of Florence. The smoke, spreading,
filled the Piazza and gave a cloudy unreality to
the moving crowd who circled the strengthening
light of the fire.
On the upper part of the buildings a pale
sun-glow lingered; but the Lion on the Palace
steps was absorbed in shade save for the flickering
unearthly glow that the burning vanities emitted
and that now and then touched the surroundings
with a murky crimson reflection.
All the while the bells of the Signori were
pealing, and the music of them rose and fell with
the hymns. Fra Girolamo suddenly looked up
at the flames, the cracking canvas, shrivelling
silks, splitting marbles, melting gold and silver,
flaring scrolls of manuscript and smokmg boxes
of perfumes that composed the pyre ; then, with
bowed head, made his way quickly and unobserved
through the crowd and out of the Piazza. He was
instantly and closely followed by the tall stranger
who had so persistently regarded him, and who
now came softly after without attracting his
The streets were deserted ; every one being
gathered in or near the Piazza, and the Friar passed
unnoticed before the front? of the tall, carved
houses ; he was swiftly making his way to the
Convent of St. Mark, and had turned down an
empty side street, deep in shade, when he suddenly
paused, as if inwardly troubled, and, turning slowly,
beheld the stranger who had also come to a stop a
few paces behind him.
Fra Girolamo regarded him earnestly ; they
THE BURNING OF THE VANITIES
were alone in the street at the bottom of which
was a glimpse of the Arno's arched bridge ; behind
them rose the steps and closed door of a hospital,
above the garden wall of which showed cypress
trees and branches of laurel.
'' You," said the tall man in sweet and culti-
vated Tuscan, " you are Era Girolamo Savonarola,
friar of St. Mark's and ruler of Florence ? "
" Girolamo Savonarola I am," answered the
Friar ; " ruler of Florence I am not, but God's
instrument for some good in this city."
The other, still speaking from the depths of
the coarse hood that completely concealed his
face, made reply —
" Kuler and Master of Florence, Friar, even as
Lorenzo was Kuler and Master, even as the Medici
were great are you great, and to-day you have
had proof of it."
" Who are you ? " demanded Fra Girolamo.
*' One who loved Lorenzo and found Florence
pleasant in his days."
" I did not hate Lorenzo — I would have saved
" You refused him absolution ! "
'' Because," replied the Friar, '' he would not
repent of his sins."
The stranger laughed impatiently.
" Usurper ! You hold his place, while his son,
at the Borgia's footstool, eats in Rome the husks
Fra Girolamo answered sternly, while the light
of enthusiasm kindled to red fire in his eyes.
"' Who are you who speak for the wicked 1
Piero de' Medici abused his power ; he would
have sold our liberty to the French — lustful, vain,
hollow ; he was banished Florence for his sins
and a price put upon his head. Woe to this city
if he returns ! At the Borgia's footstool, you say !
It is fitting that such a prince should fly to such
a Pope ! "
The stranger came a short step nearer and
loosened his hand on his hood so that his face was
visible to the Friar, who observed that he wore
one of the hideous masks of the Medicean Carnival,
mottled and spotted to represent a plague-stricken
countenance ; he noticed the Friar's start of
aversion and laughed again.
" This should have gone to feed yonder pyre ! "
he said. " Oh, credulous Friar, do you think
that you have burnt all the sins in Florence ? "
Girolamo Savonarola answered simply.
" I have done what God put it into my heart
to do. Let Him judge me. For you, ask me what
question you would have answered, or if this is
but idleness, let me on my way."
" This is your day of triumph," said the other
man with a passionate ring in his voice. " You
to-day have burnt all the Medici rejoiced in — paint-
ing, statuary, music, books, poetry, gay dresses,
perfumes, cards and dice ; and those people who
praised Lorenzo for making this Florence so
beautiful and splendid have danced round your
pyre in gladness ! "
Fra Girolamo regarded him steadily.
THE BURNING OF THE VANITIES
" Are not you also," he asked gently, " pleased
to see this city brought a little way to repentance ? "
'' Friar," answered the stranger vehemently,
" I am your enemy. I stand for all you would
destroy — the lust of the world, the pride of the
beautiful, the power of the devil. I am also a
ruined, outcast, beggared man, one of those your
rule has banished from Florence. If I were dis-
covered I should be murdered, and that would be
better than to starve in Home."
" Your name ? " interrupted Fra Girolamo.
" Are you one whom I know ? "
" You know me," was the haughty response ;
*' but my name is not pleasing to your ears. You
I hate, ay, and all your works ; but there is a day
soon when all hates shall be satisfied."
Girolamo Savonarola made quiet answer.
" If you are a follower of Piero de' Medici, I
warn you to quit Florence, for I cannot and would
not save one of the tyrant's tools from the just
anger of the People — the People ! — in them is my
trust against these evils you threaten me with."
He turned to pass on his way, but the young
man sprang lightly after him and caught his
" The People ! " he laughed. " Did not the
People shout for Lorenzo yesterday? Will they
not shout for Piero to-morrow ! "
Fra Girolamo looked at him with serene eyes.
" Never for the Medici," he answered. " Never
for the tyrant. Florence is free."
*' You are a bold man to say so," returned the
stranger, standing at his ease, with one foot on the
lowest hospital step. " Free ! No, Florence is
no freer than she was five years ago ; only now
it is you who rule instead of the Magnificent. But
not for long, Friar."
*' Again, who are you who stay me in the street
with these prophecies ? "
The sun had left even the tops of the buildings
now, and the lucid light was fading from the heavens
where an early star hung chill and pale above the
Duomo ; the black foliage of the cypress and the
sharp, long leaves of the laurel showed clearly
over the wall and against the argent flush of twi-
light ; a little fear crept into the Friar's heart,
not base fear, or cowardice, or any trembling for
himself, but the shadow of some coming doubt
lest after all he had not saved Florence ; in the tall,
dark-robed figure of the stranger, now standing
with his arms folded on his breast and regardmg
him with eyes that shot evil glimmers from the
holes in the mottled green and yellow mask, in
this man with his settled enmity, his mocking
composure, he saw testified all the hatred, scorn and
malice that had opposed his life-work.
" Begone ! " he said sternly, " and disturb me
The stranger gave him a disdainful salutation
and flung up his graceful head.
" Back to your cell, and pray the people in
whom you trust keep faithful ! " he cried lightly.
" Two thousand crowns to-day for the head of
Piero de' Medici — how much in a year's time for
THE BURNING OF THE VANITIES
thine, Friar, when Alessandro Borgia cries you
excommunicate "? "
Fra Girolamo stepped away and his dark eyes
lifted to the evening sky.
" The Pope is a broken tool, a vile trader in
holy things," he answered with great dignity.
*' And in Florence, where I am beloved, his authority
is worth nothing ; here the voice of God alone is
'* And the voice of the People," returned the
stranger mockingly ; and with a low, insulting
laugh he moved slowly away and was soon lost in
Girolamo Savonarola gazed after him a moment,
then proceeded on his way, a strange excitement
throbbing in his veins and before his eyes a misti-
ness of familiar objects, as if an unnatural darkness
He walked for a while in this manner, meeting
no one, marvelling at the curious emptiness of the
city and the increasing blackness ; everything
seemed strange and unusual. He thought he should
have reached his Convent by now, but instead
found himself traversing dark, empty streets that
were those of Florence yet unknown to him. He
turned to retrace his steps, but was Uke one groping
in the labyrinth, roads and houses crossed and re-
crossed, and he wandered confused. Nowhere was
there any light, in either window or in the heaven ;
he had lost sight of the Duomo and the star above
it ; as if the Plague had crept through the city
was the silence and the loneliness.
Then out of the empty hush came the sound
as of harsh wings beating together, and a voice
cried strongly —
" Girolamo Savonarola ! "
The Friar cast up his eyes to the blinding mist
and answered —
" I am here ! "
And the voice made reply —
" Come thou and see how the people of Florence
love thee ! "
With great rejoicing he said, *' I come ! "
Forward he pressed through the obscurity, and
the darkness began to be tinged with red and dis-
pelled as from the spreading glow of flames, and
as Fra Girolamo hastened on he found himself
suddenly on the Piazza again, standing apart from
a vast crowd that was dancing and singing about
a huge fire that lit the whole black sky and stained
the blank buildings with a lurid colour.
And the voice said, very low and in the Friar's
" These are the people who sang the songs
of Lorenzo de' Medici, the people who burnt
the vanities. Behold what task they perform
now ! "
Fra Girolamo looked and saw that the crowd
was very brilliantly dressed, that the women wore
jewels and paints, the men fine silks and rich
weapons, and that they danced in a mad profane
style ; many were masked and all wreathed with
flowers, and the heavy scents they were anointed
with hung in the thick air ; nor did they sing
THE BURNING OF THE VANITIES
hymns, but the wanton carnival songs of Lorenzo
And in the midst of their reckless rejoicing
flared and blazed the vivid devouring flames,
soaring one above the other until they far over-
topped the dark palace ; the deep crimson glow
of them picked out from the darkness the painted,
leering faces, the evil masks, the leaping, dancing,
" This is not Florence," murmured the Friar.
" This is Florence," came the answer. ** And
these are the people — thy people "
Fra Girolamo felt a hand on his shoulder, and
withdrawing his horrified eyes from the devilish
crowd, saw at his side the tall figure of the stranger
who had accosted him before the hospital.
" Look closer," he urged. " Look closer.
What vain things do they burn now 1 Not cards?
lutes and paintings. Look closer."
The Friar again gazed at the Piazza, and this
time discerned above the flames the outline of a
huge gallows from which depended several bodies,
hung by the necks, and the blood of these men
rained down on to the fire, for the crowd with
jeering and laughter threw stones at them that
broke their flesh.
" They wear monks' habits," said Fra Girolamo,
and he strained forward.
At this moment the fire consumed the rope
holding one of the victims, and as the crowd gave
a shout of rejoicing he fell into the white heat of
the fire. In that second the Friar had caught
sight of the face ; it was the dead tortured counten-
ance of his beloved disciple, Fra Domenico. He
gave a cry of anguish, and would have thrown
himself into the crowd, but the tall stranger held
And now his maddened eyes noticed a man in
scarlet and purple, mounted on a white mule,
who rode round the edge of the pyre and urged
on the crowd with ribald triumph. This man
was old, and wore a triple crown ; and at his
bridle were two younger men, like him in the
face — horribly beautiful, wearing extravagant
" Alessandro Borgia," said the stranger in the
Friar's ear, '* and his two sons, Francesco and
Fra Girolamo tried to speak, but his tongue
refused to move.
" Look again," urged the voice, low, insistent
The Friar gazed up through the smoke and
flame, and in the horrid blaze saw another figure
dangle at the rope's end, then drop ; again, in the
instant's downward fall he saw the face — livid and
This time his own. His — face and figure.
" See how the people of Florence burn Giro-
lamo Savonarola ! " cried the stranger. " These
people who wept to hear you preach in the
Duomo ! "
Fra Girolamo fell back a step and raised a
shuddering hand to shut out the awful fire.
THE BURNING OF THE VANITIES
The other flung back his mantle, and the great
glow of the fire caught the embroideries on the
gay dress hitherto concealed beneath.
" You dethroned the Medici," he said ;
'' these," — he pointed to the crowd — " will dethrone
Soft blackness rose up, choking the bright
flames, blotting out the shouting people, the
dim outline of the buildings swirling round the feet
of Fra Girolamo and mounting to his eyes. He
cast himself on his knees and seemed to sink
forward on nothingness ; his senses broke and
forsook him ; he flung out his hands and made
an effort to hurl off the darkness as if it were a
mantle tossed over his head ; he felt his knees
strike stone, the blackness rent, tore, lifted and
disappeared ; he found himself lying up the
hospital steps ; before him the low wall, the
cypress tree, the laurel branches ; beyond, the
darkening pure sky. And beside him the tall
stranger staring at him through the holes of his
The Friar staggered to his feet.
" I have had a vision," he said under his breath.
** Methought you were my guide. Who are you ? "
The other tore off the mask, snapping the
orange ribbons that bound it to his head, and dis-
closing a superb face framed in clusters of brown
curls, flushed with crimson.
" I am Piero ! " he cried. " I am the Medici !
And after the burning of Girolamo Savonarola I
shall rule again in Florence ! "
" Then it was no vision," answered Fra Giro-
lamo, " but a Devil's fantasy — ■ — "
" A fantasy," said Piero ; " but you shall test
The Friar leant against the wall of the hospital
and closed his eyes to shut out the picture of the
wicked face and red eyes he had last seen with
that same smiling expression casting hate on
him from beside the death-bed of Lorenzo the
" Lord ! Lord ! " he cried strongly. " Save
me from the snares and delusions of evil ! "
Now he opened his eyes and saw about him
his own cell in St. Mark, and he lay on his bed,
and beside him sat his beloved disciple, Fra
Domenico, and he shuddered as one waking from
a terrible dream.
" How got I here from the Piazza ? " he asked,
sitting up. And they told him that a faintness
had come over him as would often happen in the
pulpit, and that so insensible he had been brought
to the Convent.
" Truly," said Fra Domenico, with love beaming
in his eyes, " this was the day of your glory — for all
the vanities in Florence were burnt to ashes — yes,
even to nothingness was all that wantonness
Girolamo Savonarola looked at Fra Domenico,
then at his own body.
" To ashes, to nothingness ! " he murmured.
"Oh, God, make the spirit strong ! "
The disciple asked tenderly —
THE BURNING OF THE VANITIES
" Father, what troubled you ? "
Fra Girolamo made the sign of the cross and
replied with a sweet composure —
"Nought— but in the crowd methought that
I did see— Piero de' Medici."
A WOMAN OF THE PEOPLE
Madame la Comtesse du Barry
" Among all the noble and ignoble sufferers by the guillotine
there is no record of cowardice on the part of any — save only in the
case of Madame du Barry, a woman of the people who had been
mistress of France during the most extravagant years of the reign
of Louis XV." — History of France.
On the third day of November, 1793, Madame la
Comtesse du Barry, arrested for " supplymg the
Emigrants with money," and for this offence
sentenced to death, was brought to the prison of
There were many prisoners that day, among
them PhiHppe, one time Due d' Orleans, recently
Philippe Egalite, the man who had voted for the
death of his cousin, the King, and was now to die
the same way himself.
Madame du Barry and her companions were
conducted through a large Gothic hall, dark and
low, down a long stone corridor, also dark and
low, and half open one side to grim vaults, through
two squat doors and across a courtyard narrowed
and cobbled, into another building, up gloomy
straight stairs and into a narrow corridor. While
the jailer was unlocking doors Madame du Barry
looked round her ; she perceived that only one of
A WOMAN OF THE PEOPLE
her companions remained — a woman as young and
beautiful as herself, with black hair and dusky
eyes and a face twisted with terror.
" What is your name ? " whispered Madame
" Josephine Beauharnais," answered the dark
beauty in a feeble voice. " And for God's sake
tell me — are we to die — to die ? "
" No — no," whispered the fair woman eagerly.
Madame Beauharnais smiled foolishly.
" A wise woman once said that I should be a
queen and more," she replied brokenly, *' there-
fore I cannot be going to die "
'' No, no," repeated the Countess, shaking her
The jailer came and roughly separated them.
Madame du Barry saw the pallid, dazed face of
her companion and heard her shriek as she was
thrust into a room and the key turned ; then she
herself was pushed through an open door and
She stumbled across the threshold and nearly
fell, recovered herself and went straight to the
window and looked out.
The window was heavily and closely barred
from top to bottom, and faced the other portion
of the prison through which she had just come,
which was only a few yards distant. A small
portion of sky was visible and a small strip of
cobbled courtyard ; nothing else.
The sky was grey with the sullen snows of
November, and the cobbles and the walls were
splashed and stained with dark patches ; Madame
du Barry knew what they were : a few days before
the Girondists had been gathered in the chapel of
the Concifergerie and then driven out into the court-
yard to be massacred.
She had heard a man say that the blood had
A peculiar, terrible and sickening smell filled
the prison ; she had noticed it as soon as she had
stepped down into the dark entrance hall. It was
very strong in this room where they had put her.
She tried to forget what it was.
" I must think," she said to herself ; " I must
She had been saying that all day. Holding
on to her senses and saying to herself that as soon
as this horrible and bewildering tumult was over,
as soon as she was alone and quiet, away from the
abuse, the staring, the rough handhng, she would
think — straighten things out in her mind, decide
what must be done.
And now she was alone she found she could
not think ; she had acted on impulse, not re-
flection, all her life ; besides, she was rather stupid.
Her mind wandered off to trivial things : the
details that had made her life still chiefly interested
her ; she noticed the dull small room, the wooden
bed with a rough coverlet, the broken chair. She
pulled out the bed pillow and shuddered to see
that it was soiled. Then she began to consider her
She wore the gown she had been arrested in, a
A WOMAN OF THE PEOPLE
plain yellow taffeta with muslin ruffles at the throat
and elbows and a dark green pelerine with a cape.
Her hat had gone ; on putting her hands up to
her fair curls she found that her hair ribbon had
gone too. Her dress was torn and muddy round
the hem, and one of her light boots was broken.
She put her hand to her bosom and drew out
a string of pearls that she had, the moment before
her arrest at her country chateau, snatched up
mechanically and concealed in her dress. The soft
lustre and colour of them gave her pleasure and
comfort ; she handled them lovingly and laid them
next her cheek.
She remembered that she had worn them on
the occasion when King Louis, at the review, had
stood bare-headed at the door of her sedan, her
lacquey before the eyes of France.
And she was still as beautiful as she had been
then — perhaps more beautiful ; therefore it could
not be that they were going to murder her. Beauty
like hers was a power. The men who had put her
here could not have noticed her.
She looked round, hoping for a mirror, but
there was none.
She put her hand to her face, felt her smooth
skin, her glossy hair, her delicate neck, the curve
of her lips. . . .
*' If I were a plain woman I might be afraid,"
she murmured ; *' but they will not touch me."
Rising impatiently, she moved about the room ;
she began to be indignant that they had put her
in such a place. She knocked on the door and
called out, demanding a better apartment — food —
It was absurd that she should be treated thus ;
they had forgotten who she was, she told herself.
There was no answer to her cries. She began
to tremble, and presently returned to the window.
She must think.
She was condemned to death ; she had heard
the man wearing the tricolor sash and cocked hat
say so ; but at the time the words had meant
little or nothing : they had only been one detail
more in the tmnult of horror and terror by which
she had been surrounded since her arrest. She
knew that people were sentenced and left months
in prison or set free the next morning ; besides,
she was not an aristocrat, but a woman of the
people. Despite her rapid rise and the brilliance
of her shining, she was by birth no better than the
draggled women who had shouted at her as she
was dragged before the tribunal.
Yes, she was one with these people ; the great
aristocrats had always scorned her. M. de Choiseul
had lost his place for a disdainful word of her ;
they had all recognised that she was, however
gilded by the homage of Louis, only a common
She tried to recall the years of her glory when
she had ruled France, and to search in her mind
for any cause of offence given to the People who
were now the masters. She thought that her
conscience was clear : she had never meddled with
politics ; she had been kind to those dependent
A WOMAN OF THE PEOPLE
on her ; she had done her best to amuse a King
who was " unamusable." True, she had used the
pubHc treasury as her own, but she had robbed no
one, for the money would only have gone to some
other woman. No, she could not see that she had
done more than fill her part. Certamly, when she
had ruled France it had not floated in blood as
it was floating now ; she had not pulled down
God and profaned His Churches ; she had not
imprisoned the innocent and massacred the
With the thought that the People had no
crime to charge her with she consoled herself,
and she was not afraid of the actual charge on
which she was condemned, for it was vague and
The truth they did not know. Having fled
to London on the first outbreak of the revolution,
she had returned to France — not, as her accusers
beheved, to fetch her jewels with which to succour
the emigrants in England, but to put her wealth
and her services at the disposal of those who were
engaged in a plot to rescue the Queen.
Marie Antoinette had always looked over the
head of Madame du Barry ; while the old King
lived she had afforded her, under compulsion, a
frozen tolerance ; when she became Queen the
favourite had been banished to a convent, utterly
ignored and forgotten.
Yet on an impulse of loyalty Madame du Barry
had come impetuously from London to endeavour
to rescue the Queen whom she had always admired,
wliom she admired rather more perhaps for her
constant lofty attitude of contempt towards her-
self ; her placid, rather foolish mind had never
resented the disdain of an Emperor's daughter.
She was very sorry that her attempt to serve the
Queen had been frustrated ; she resolved, when
she was free, to make another endeavour, though
she had already given nearly all the spoils of her
years of plunder to help the refugees in England. . . .
The dusk began to fall ; the room was shiver-
ingly cold. No one came to her. She paced up
and down the room to keep herself warm and beat
her hands on her breast.
Suppose that, after all, they did mean to drag
her out to the guillotine ?
Many, many had gone already ; many, many
were yet to go — women as beautiful as herself, as
innocent of offence towards the People.
At this thought her spirit shrieked aloud ;
she fell across the chair by the window and gazed
frantically at the strip of darkening sky.
The smell of blood rose intolerably and clung
to her nostrils ; it reminded her that all her poor
reasonings were of no avail, that this was an age of
anarchy when none of the old arguments held
And she was in the power of creatures without
pity, without justice, who stopped for nothing
in their swift slaying.
But she would not accept this view ; her mind
rejected it. She could not and would not believe
that she was meant for death.
A WOMAN OF THE PEOPLE
Suddenly the jailer entered ; she had meant
to assail him with questions, arguments, reproaches,
but when she saw him, though he had no particular
appearance of brutality, she could not summon the
courage to say one word.
He put a plate of bread and meat and a glass
of water on the table. He did not even look at
her ; his air was one of absolute indifference.
She noticed his black and broken nails, his
dirty neck and greasy clothes ; she felt sick, and
closed her eyes.
The sound of the closing door penetrated her
nausea. She tried to ask for a light, but he had
gone and the key was turned in the lock ; she rose
then and pushed away the fat, almost raw meatj
the sight of which made her quiver with disgust.
She tried to eat a little of the bread, but it was
coarse and dry and stuck in her throat.
Some of the water she drank and the rest she
used to bathe her hands and brow, drying them
afterwards on her petticoat.
The light faded quickly in this confined chamber,
built in as it was ; and though the chimes of the
Conciergerie clock told her that it was no more
than four, it was soon completely dark.
She faced the fact that they meant to leave
her without a light ; this did not much trouble
her. She felt a dullness creeping over her spirits ;
she was more conscious of the cold than anything
else. Chilled in every limb, she lay down on the
distasteful bed and dragged the thin blankets
over her. All her terrified and bewildered thoughts
were soothed by the exquisite sense of physical
relief that ran through her fatigued body. She
sighed and dismissed everything till to-morrow ;
the tension of nerves and brain relaxed. She
spread her thick hair between her face and the pillow
She dreamt of a little episode that had taken
place many years ago at Versailles. Marie Antoi-
nette, the childish young Dauphine, had, in her
tremendous pride of royal birth and purity, re-
fused to speak to the Comtesse du Barry, who
was then the most powerful person in France.
The Austrian Ambassador had besought this
concession of her in vain ; but at last, on the com-
mands of her mother, the Empress Marie Therese,
she had given way, and had reluctantly promised
to speak to the favourite in full com't.
It was this scene that Madame du Barry saw
now in her sleep.
She thought that she was standing again in
the gorgeous gallery at Versailles that looked out
on to the terrace ; she thought that she was again
powdered, perfumed, and clad in rose-coloured
velvet and wearing on her breast diamonds that
would have bought bread for all the starving
people in France.
And across the shining floor came the young
Austrian, her immature figm-e glittering in jewelled
brocade and tense with the effort she was making.
" Madame," she said in a stifled voice, " there
are a number of people at Versailles to-day "
Then her voice broke, her breast heaved, she
A WOMAN OF THE PEOPLE
flushed crimson and hurried away, bursting into
Madame du Barry thought that she was follow-
ing her, saying —
" Do not be distressed, Madame. I am sorry
they have made you speak to me. I shall not do
you any harm."
But the Princess would not turn, but hastened
along the gleaming floor.
She woke with a start and a horrid leap of her
heart ; the room was quite dark but cut by the
yellow hght coming through the open door ; she
could see the shape of a man looking in.
'' Six o'clock to-morrow, citizeness," he said
in a tired voice, and closed the door.
She tried to concentrate her mind on what
he had said. What was it that was to happen
at six o'clock to-morrow ?
She was quite ignorant of the rules and customs
of the prison. Perhaps it meant that she was to
be set free in the morning, or taken to a better
apartment, or put on her trial — or perhaps it was
merely the hour at which he would rouse her and
bring her food.
Fatigue overwhelmed her again ; she fell into
a heavy sleep, this time dreamless.
When she woke the darkness was faintly filled
with the glimmer of dawn ; she rose, stiff and giddy,
and put up her hair with such pins as she could
find scattered on the bed.
Mechanically she pulled her coat and gown,
her fichu and rufHes into place. The exquisite
habits of years of luxurious living asserted them-
selves without any prompting of the brain, as her
beauty, that neither dissipation nor indolence
could mar, asserted itself even now, when she was
for perhaps the first time in her life unconscious
She felt very feeble, and her head was aching
slightly with a dull pain in the temples. She would
not go to the window because of the remembrance
of the stained courtyard.
The room was very cold, yet close and foul ;
she wondered who had been confined here before,
and whether they had been released or
She heard doors opening and shutting down the
corridor, footsteps and the jangle of keys.
Her own door opened and the jailer appeared,
holding a lantern.
He made a gesture for her to pass out ; she
" What is this ? Where am I to go ? Am I
to have no food ? I could not eat what you brought
The man seized her arm and pushed her
out into the corridor, then went on to the next
Madame du Barry found several people waiting
who had evidently been roused as she had been ;
they all glanced at her curiously, and some recog-
nised her and all noticed her beauty.
On her part she looked for the gipsy-like lady
whom she had spoken with last night, but she was
not there. From the others Madame du Barry
A WOMAN OF THE PEOPLE
shrank ; she thought that their eyes were cold and
When some seven were gathered and the last
door had been relocked, the jailer conducted them
downstairs and across the courtyard, the way
Madame du Barry had been brought last night.
She made a resolve, and kept it, of not looking
down when she crossed those foul cobbles, but
forced herself to look up at the strip of sky sadly
coloured with the winter dawn, that — melancholy
and remote as it was — yet seemed kinder and
more human than either buildings or people.
Then the sombre walls closed round them again.
A couple of Republican Guards took charge of
the prisoners and conducted them to the large,
dark Gothic entrance hall — " la salle des pas
This was lit by two lanterns and already con-
tained several people besides the soldiers on
There was a great silence. Madame du Barry
wished to speak, to ask what was going to happen,
but could not ; she leant against one of the pillars
and looked round with frightened eyes.
Every one was very quiet ; a few whispered
together, but in the most hushed of tones. The
soldiers paced about heavily ; one was eating
Most of the people were poorly dressed and
white-faced, as if they had been long in prison,
but some were fashionable and neat, and must
have been just arrested.
One of these, a young man wearing a handsome
travelling dress and his hair elaborately cmrled,
approached Madame du Barry.
His face was vaguely familiar to her ; she
thought that she must have seen him at Versailles.
" Why did you return to France, Madame ? "
The sound of a refined man's voice was beyond
words grateful to her ears ; the numb sensation
left her brain. She raised her blue eyes and gave
him (unconsciously) the sideway glance she had
used with such effect at the court of France.
" They think it was for my jewels," she
whispered ; " but I was in a plot to save the
He looked at her very kindly, and she was
pleased and flattered to a great degree, for she had
believed that the aristocracy still despised her,
and this man was obviously an aristocrat.
" What are they keeping us here for ? " she
asked. " What is going to happen ? "
He made no immediate answer, and, looking
intently at him, she perceived that his face was
slightly distorted — or was it that her vision was
distracted and gave this abnormal appearance
to others ?
A soldier passed them, insolently near ; when
he had gone the young man answered —
" They must have told you ? You were tried
yesterday ? "
She faintly shook her fair head.
" Oh no, you could not call it a trial ; they
A WOMAN OF THE PEOPLE
dragged me before some tribunal. A servant
denounced me, Monsieur."
" Do you not know, Madame, what this
means ? "
A spasm of agony contracted her heart.
*' No — no " she stammered.
He very gently laid his hand on her wrist.
" We are all condemned to the guillotine," he
said. " We are waiting for that now — the guil-
Incomprehension and confusion showed in the
blue eyes of Madame du Barry ; her mouth fell
" They are going to kill — me ? " she asked.
His fingers tightened on her wrist ; he answered,
and his voice was so low and hoarse that it seemed
a whistle in his throat.
'' They are watching us. Do not let them see
that you care."
*' Oh, I shall be very quiet," she answered.
He let go of her hand, and it fell like a dead
thing to her side.
She was, as she had promised, very quiet,
but it was only because she did not, could not,
realise what this man had said. Yesterday she
had clung to the idea that once she was alone
in prison she would think clearly, but she had not,
and now the nightmare was closing round her
Her weight slipped against the pillar ; she felt
both sick and giddy. Some one moved a chair
towards her and gently pushed her into it ; she
looked up to see a woman holding some knitting
in her left hand.
" The bad air makes you faint," said this lady
kindly and serenely.
" Was I faint ? " asked Madame du Barry.
The lady and the young man exchanged glances
over her bent blonde head.
" You must not be afraid," he said. " It is
'' And it is very quickly over," added the
" Who are you ? " asked Madame du Barry
The lady mentioned a great name, the name of
a friend of the Queen, the name of a woman who
had quietly ignored the favourite at Versailles.
" Yes, I remember you," muttered the Countess
and shrank away.
The other woman touched her shoulder.
*' Madame has behaved like a person of quality,"
she said gently. " Madame will die as such "
At this a little blood crept into the poor
prisoner's face ; she caught at the kind hand on
" Yes, yes," she answered pitifully, " I will
try to behave well."
*' Are you afraid ? " asked the young man.
She looked up at him and thought that his face
was beyond doubt horribly distorted now, like a
wet clay mask pulled awry by clumsy fingers.
'' I am very much afraid — I can't believe it "
Her voice trailed off ; she turned her eyes to the
A WOMAN OF THE PEOPLE
woman the other side of her. In that white, calm
face was that same dragged look of distortion.
Madame du Barry did not know that her own
features were now almost unrecognisable through
the contraction of terror and anticipation of
" Why do you not do something ? " she
glanced round the assembled prisoners. " All
these people cannot be going to — die ? "
The lady put her knitting in the pocket of her
black silk apron ; she had seen the guards un-
barring the doors.
" Whatever we are ox have been," she answered,
" none of us, so far, have failed in this moment."
Madame du Barry sprang up.
" But I cannot— do — it " she stammered.
" I — cannot — I am not an aristocrat — I — I — have
nothing to die for — I am only a woman of the
There was no response in the faces of her two
companions ; they were watching the opening of
the doors at the top of the few shallow steps.
Madame du Barry watched too ; her senses seemed
suspended or dulled ; her mouth hung open in
a childish circle and her eyes showed the white
round the pupils.
The doors were flung wide and fastened back ;
four soldiers entered and took up their places
inside the entrance. A shaft of chill white light
fell across the lantern-lit gloom, and a rush of
bitter air dispersed the close odours of the hall.
Madame du Barry found the name — " salle des
pas perdu " running in her head ; for the first
time in her Hfe she noticed the meaning. ... Of
course, " The hall of lost footsteps." Of course
that was why it was given to entrance places :
people came and went, but no one stayed — lost
footsteps . . . lost footsteps. . . .
She could see a cart outside, a humble, dirty
cart with straw in the bottom. A jailer began to
call out numbers ; the prisoners moved towards
the door. She found herself being drawn along
by the young man who had spoken to her, found
herself mounting the few steps and outside in the
raw, cold morning.
She had an appalling sensation of being hurried
along too fast for comprehension. If they would
only give her time to think ! She could not realise
There were very few people before the prison ;
the one or two there took no notice. A man
delivering bread looked over his shoulder, then
away again, indifferently.
Some passers-by on the quay stopped to watch,
i . . Madame du Barry wondered what was the
matter with these people, with the river, with
the houses beyond, with the sky — all seemed
unreal, distorted. This was not the world that
she knew . . . she was among grotesque strangers.
Following the others meekly, she ascended the
cart ; there were about twelve people in it, and
they had to stand. When the horse started the
jerk almost threw her on her knees ; the man
next her helped her up.
A WOMAN OF THE PEOPLE
" Where are we going ? " she asked. " Where
are we going ? "
" To Heaven, I hope," was the flippant answer.
A man the other side of her spoke. " One
cannot be sure of one's company even in the
tumbrils," he remarked, glancing at her. ^ " But
poor Duquesne had to go with PhiHppe Egalite,
which was worse," he added.
Madame du Barry looked wildly round for the
young aristocrat who had befriended her ; he was
standing towards the front of the cart, looking
with a melancholy air at the river. She could not
attract his attention. The lady with the knitting
had not come.
They soon left the quay for the more crowded
thoroughfares. People began to line the roads,
to fill the windows. There was an unusual crowd
to-day to watch the passing of the King's favourite.
The wretched object of this attention began to
be aware of it, began to understand that the abuse
and execrations that were flung after them were
chiefly directed against her, began to grasp the
meaning of the finger-pointing, the shouting.
She was going to her death, and these people
were hounding her to it with dehght and ferocity.
A convulsion shook her and a light foam frothed
on her lips while her eyes turned in her head ;
she gave a shriek so sharp and ghastly that the
men beside her covered their ears ; she would
have fallen had not the wooden rails of the cart
held her up.
This new spectacle of abandoned terror brought
the mob rushing after the cart with fresh im-
precations of hate and contempt towards the woman
who had spent the revenues of France in wanton
luxury while such as themselves sweated and
But she was ignorant of her offence towards
them ; and now the conviction of the truth was
borne blazingly into her brain, filled only with
one desire — to save her life.
She stretched her hands out over the back of
" I am no aristocrat ! " she cried. " I am a
woman of the people ! Save me ; do not let them
take me ! I do not want to die ! "
Such taunts of vile and horrible abuse answered
her that she drew back with her fingers to her lips.
" No, no ! " she shrieked. " I never wronged
any one of you ! "
The surging crowd now almost blocked the
progress of the cart ; the soldiers who were con-
ducting it had to make a way with their bayonets.
Stones and garbage were hurled at her ; dirt
splashed on her dress ; the jerking of the cart
shook her hair down ; she continually lost her
balance and fell against the wooden side.
" Madame, for God's sake " said the man
next her. " You demean us all."
She put her hands over her face ; these others
might well be brave, she thought ; they were
dying for all they believed in, for the sake of what
they were, but she had nothing to die for. All
she had, all she had ever had, was her beauty,
A WOMAN OF THE PEOPLE
and death would take that from her — and what
was left ?
Death presented itself to her as an intolerable
blackness ; she could not, she would not face it.
She would resist. They could not be such fiends
as to drag her to her death.
She clenched her hands. She heard the words
they were throwing at her ; a sense of rage nerved
her against them. She hated them, especially
the women. She lifted her head, and her blue
eyes had a hot brilHance like madness.
" I am not a wicked woman ! " she cried out
fiercely, looking over the sea of haggard, angry
faces. " What I did any of you women here
would have done had it been offered to you as it
was offered to me ! "
Such of the women who could hear these words
replied by a rush of fury that nearly upset the
cart, and tried to pull the speaker down among
them ; the soldiers drove them back, and one
man struck Madame du Barry with the flat of
his sword and violently bade her be silent.
She crouched down, hiding her eyes and her
ears. A Httle cold rain began to fall ; she felt it
on her head and shivered.
The cart stopped. She dropped her stiff
fingers and looked up ; she was face to face with
the final horror.
A platform surrounded with soldiers in the
midst of an open place crowded with people ;
at one side a palace and trees — the great square
once named after her lover, Louis XV.
From the centre of the platform rose the
hideous machine itself, the guillotine, with two
tall upright posts dyed red, the plank, the basket,
the cloth, a man in a dark coat holding a cord,
all outhned against a grey tumultuous sky and
the leafless, dry trees of November,
The prisoners began to descend from the cart,
began to ascend the steps to the guillotine amid
the murmurs and yells of the haggard feverish
Madame du Barry stood at the foot of the
scaffold. One by one her companions passed
her. The young man in the handsome great
coat murmured " courage " as he stepped up and
looked at her with pitying eyes.
Her heart was beating very fast ; she did not
know what she was thinking or doing, only that
all her worst anticipations had not equalled this
There were only three left besides herself. The
man in charge of the cart seized hold of her long
locks and quickly and roughly cut them off.
" Your turn, my little piece of royalty," he
She looked at him blankly ; he snatched her
small, feeble hands and tied them behind her
before she had guessed his intention.
" Oh ! " she cried. " Oh ! "
She was quite bewildered. The world seemed
to have stopped. She saw her blonde curls lying
at her feet and moved her head stiffly to and fro
to see if the ringlets were not still there.
A WOMAN OF THE PEOPLE
They pushed her forward and told her to mount.
" Up there ? " she asked vacantly, and stared
at the scaffold.
" Yes, up there," was the answer. She hesi-
tated, looked about her as if she did not under-
stand. The man, becoming impatient, pushed her
again, roughly, and she, impeded by her bound
arms, could not save herself, but fell in the slime
and mud at the foot of the steps.
They dragged her to her feet and up the steps,
one either side of her, hurting her arms.
The roar of the crowd that greeted her was
prolonged and horrible ; she looked round at them ;
no one who had seen her, even yesterday, would
have recognised her then.
Samson approached and caught hold of her
" May I not keep that ? " she asked. He did
not even trouble to refuse, but snatched away the
muslin, leaving her throat and bosom bare. She
struggled to release her arms, turned and saw the
plank, the posts, the basket full of heads. Shriek
after shriek left her lips. Such desperate strength
possessed her that she almost broke from the two
men holding her.
" Have mercy on me — I never hurt anything —
I was not properly tried — I am not an aristocrat !
Why did he denounce me ? I was always good
to him ! Oh, my God, my God, save me from
this ! "
For an awful moment the two men and the
woman struggled together, she being drawn nearer,
nearer the plank. The pearls, last remnant of
her guilty greatness, fell from her poor torn bodice
on to the dirty boards. Samson stooped to pick
them up, and the other man, using brutal force,
hurled Madame du Barry to her knees.
" Do not hurt me ! " she screamed. They
seized her again and pitched her forward on to the
plank. She strove unavaihngly.
Samson pulled the cord. She saw and -smelt
blood and slime ; she felt herself being swung
forward. She shrieked once — twice — and the knife
descended, sending her common blood gushing
over the other noble blood that stained the oak
" Oh, it would be better to be a poor fisherman than to meddle
with the governing of men." — Danton in Prison.
On a morning in May, 1794, misty bright with the
pure soft glow of a spring sun, a man sat under a
hedge on the high-road to Paris, near Clamars, a
village close to Bourg-la-Reine.
He was in ragged clothes, unshaven, gaunt and
pallid ; his hair hung damp and dusty round his
forehead and neck ; his face, which was of aquiline
type, had a closed look of physical suffering silently
endured ; his feet were blistered and bleeding, his
dirty stockings had fallen down to his ankles
though he had endeavoured to fasten them with
wisps of grass ; he had neither shoes nor waist-
coat ; he was thin with the dry horrible thinness
of starvation. His eyes, large and deep-set, were
flecked with red, and his cracked lips stiffly parted
over the white glisten of his teeth.
This man was Marie Jean Nicolas Caritat,
Marquis de Condorcet, peer of France, famous
mathematician, philosopher, man of letters, poli-
tician and Girondist, the friend of Liberty, the
dreamer of the dream of a respectable Republic
and the People ruling gloriously over France, the
denouncer of Robespierre and all the excesses of
the Eevolution, a man famous for his learned
book " Esquise sur 1' Esprit Humaine " and such-
like, and for the Roman-like tend of his speeches
in the Senate.
Neither birth nor learning nor high-minded
endeavour, nor patriotism, nor flinging aside
ancient prejudices of birth and joining hands
with the people in what he had hoped was an
enlightened age, had saved him from this : the
ignominy of flight, of hiding, the ignominy of sheer
starvation. On the fall of his party and the arrest
of his colleagues he had fled, and for two months
had been sheltered by friends ; but he was too
great a man to be forgotten ; as the principles
he had advocated fell most hopelessly to ruin, as
the section he had been associated with became
more and more an object of public contempt and
hatred, as the bloody tyranny of the Robespierre
tribunals grew fiercer and more unrestrained, so
did the net begin to close more tightly round the
Marquis de Condorcet.
His presence in his friend's house began to
endanger that friend ; he was entreated to stay,
at whatever cost, but nevertheless rose early one
morning and left the house and left Paris ; he had
come to the humihation of flight and concealment,
not yet to the humihation of dragging others with
him in his piteous downfall.
For two weeks he had lurked round Paris,
hiding in thickets and quarries, hving on the food
he had v/ith him in his pocket and a few crusts
begged from a farmhouse and a few scraps pm:-
chased by a day's labour in turning the ground.
These two weeks had served to bring him to
the last stage of extremity ; the aristocrat, the
philosopher, had only two desires — a little food
and a little sleep.
Goaded by this intolerable need of food he had
left the disused quarry where he had lain hidden
for the last two days and stumbled on to the high-
road where he sat now, blinking at the sun.
Yesterday he had found an unsuspected treasure,
in the shape of two silver pieces, in the inner pocket
of his coat, and he resolved to reach the nearest
inn and lay this out in food.
What he should do afterwards he was too sick
to think ; everything had narrowed to that desire
for food and rest — the rest that could only come
of hunger satisfied ; for at present the pangs of
starvation would not let him sleep or, for one
instant, forget his outraged body.
Yet prudence still whispered in his ear that
he meditated a foolish thing ; they were looking
for him — even the half-witted peasants on the
farm where he had worked had suspected him —
and at an inn where some one of better intelli-
gence might any moment enter, surely he wcs not
Then he considered his appearance ; certainly
the Marquis de Condorcet was well disguised now ;
his clothes had been at best poor, for he had passed
as a servant in his friend's house, and now there
was not one sign or mark of anything save the
most abject poverty and want about his person ;
he thought he could defy recognition.
He watched the sun mounting above the haw-
thorn trees that were clouded with white blossoms,
and there seemed to be two orbs of gold fire chang-
ing and mingling and sHpping giddily about the
He staggered to his feet and walked stiffly and
slowly down the long dusty road, each step an
agony, for his feet were chafed raw in his rough
He passed a poor cottage standing in an un-
tidy garden ; it was the beginning of the village
The winding street led to the inn ; though it
was still so early the place was open ; a boy was
whistling while he rubbed down a horse, his plump
aspect had something grotesque in it to the famished
A woman came out of the inn and threw a pail
of dirty water across the street ; the Marquis
stupidly noticed the long dark trails of wet across
the dust that were trickling slowly to his feet.
The boy looked up and saw him as he stood hesi-
" Good morning, citizen."
'' Good morning, citizen," answered the Marquis
in a voice feeble from weakness and long silence.
" Can I get some food here ? "
" If you can pay for it, citizen."
" Yes, I can pay."
The boy straightened himself and looked at
the wild and miserable figure advancing towards
" Who are you, citizen ? " he asked, and the
Marquis saw suspicion creep into his common
" I am a servant looking for a place ; my last
was in Paris — I have walked a long way — I mean
to get to Bourg-la-Eeine to-night."
" Well, it is not far," answered the peasant
with an instant insolence of the poor towards the
" I must have breakfast first," said the Marquis,
putting a great restraint on himself to speak gently
and humbly ; it was natural to him to be brief
and cold with his inferiors.
The youth jerked his head towards the open door.
The Marquis entered the low dark passage and
stepped into the common parlour in the front,
which was roughly furnished but filled with beauty
by the chestnut tree that pressed its load of young
clear green leaves against the panes of the small
The Marquis sank on to a chair by this window,
with his back to the light and rested his elbows
on the stained table in front of him.
The woman whom he had seen with the pail
entered, wiping her hands on her rough blue apron ;
she did not appear to notice his desperate appear-
ance ; the light was not good and probably she
was used enough to wild and haggard figures
stopping here for a moment's respite on some
He asked her briefly for food ; she nodded and
looked at him, not unkindly. Few indeed could
have looked at him unmoved, so obviously had
everything left him save mere fainting humanity
that cried for succour.
'' You are hungry ? " she said.
He answered her with an effort ; repeated his
story of a servant out of place.
" What became of your master ? " she asked.
" Dead," he repHed, hardly knowing what he
said. " The guillotine "
" Ah, the guillotine — he was, then, an aristo-
crat ? " She put bread, cheese and a bottle of
wine on the table, having taken them from a
cupboard in the wall.
" Do aristocrats only go to the guillotine ? "
he replied, while his hand went out to the bread.
" No, there are no longer any aristocrats, and now
we execute the good repubUcans, citizeness."
" Yes," she answered ; " but you spoke as if
you had lived with aristocrats, citizen."
The Marquis shuddered : so she had noticed
it, this stupid woman ; his speech stamped him,
he could not disguise that.
" I was in a good place," he said.
She left him, and he began eating and drinking,
not thinking for the moment of anything but that,
the gratification of his necessity.
He ate all the bread and cheese she had brought
him before he dare touch the wine ; when he did
drink it, poor and thin as it was, it restored his
blood to nearer its normal beat and heat ; his
brain began to work more clearly and sanely, his
strong intelligence reasserted its sway ; he began
to form plans, to make resolves.
The woman came in and brought him meat
and more bread ; he asked her if he could rest
there till noon, and she answered that he could
stay in the room till then, he would not trouble
her, and she was not Hkely to have more customers
before the evening.
Again he was alone ; the peace of the dark
parlour, the delicious green of the softly-waving
leaves outside, the silence and a certain homely
perfume from the herbs hanging in bunches from
the dark raftered ceiling affected him like a spell.
It was probably foolish to remain here ; it
would probably be wise to take advantage of his
luck and slip away while the inn was quiet, but he
could not. The pain of hunger ceased, his great
fatigue asserted itself ; if they had been galloping
red-hot from Paris after him with certain news
that he was at this very spot, he must still have
done as he did ; drop on to the worn chintz settle
The gratification of his utter bodily weariness
was more exquisite than the gratification of his
hunger had been ; the humble couch was like down
pillows after stones and hedges, and the pursued
and hunted man abandoned himself without re-
sistance to the helplessness of sleep.
When he awoke it was about three hours later ;
he was racked with pain and still exhausted, but
he made a violent effort to rouse himself ; his
mind was quite clear ; he knew what he was
risking and he would risk it no longer ; he forced
back the desire to again fall into a stupor of
sleep and sat up on the couch.
There was a great noise outside ; some one
was arriving with loud and angry commands,
jingle of harness, clatter of horses' hoofs.
The Marquis guessed that this noise was what
had roused him ; he rose softly, went to the
window and peeped through the screen of leaves.
A well-dressed man was dismounting and
another was ordering about the stable-boy with an
air of great importance.
The Marquis dropped into his former seat with
his back to the light — had he stayed too long ?
— was there some possible way of immediate
Only by the common passage through which
he had come ; and it was too late for that, for he
could hear the two men already there calhng for
Who were they ? Was he caught ? Could he
play his part through and cheat the accursed of
their prey ?
He asked himself these questions in swift
succession, and every nerve in his being braced
itself to avoid the final misery of facing the humilia-
tion of falling into his enemies' hands after under-
going every other humihation of flight, conceal-
ment and degradation. He could not have put
into words the hatred he felt towards the tyrants
with whom for a while he had in his bhndness
joined, forsaking his own order, believing in his
folly that he was leaguing with the right, that he
was to be one of the prophets of a new era of
liberty and Hght and hope.
Believing, too, that he and they could forget
his gentle blood, that they could forgive it and he
ignore it ; but it had been the strongest of all
strong things ; now, when everything else was
stripped away it remained : his birth, his blood,
his traditions, and the great hate between him
and the plebeian that had been for a while cloaked
and disguised, now sprang actively to life.
He could not repent too bitterly of his mistaken
ideals of patriotism and the general good, his un-
fortunate ambitions of governing his country, of
doing some service to his kind that had led him
to this pass of despair, that had made him another
figure of tragedy to blend in the bloody carnival
being daily enacted ; and in this moment of anguish
he would rather have died as others of his class
had died — at once hating the people and by them
hated, tyrants perhaps and men who had done
nothing with their lives, but to be envied by men
like Marie Jean Caritat who had forsaken his order
only to come to this.
The two new-comers entered the room ; which
was now so Hght by reason of the level rays of the
sun piercing the chestnut leaves that but little
part of it was in shadow, and the Marquis, even
with his back to the light was clear enough in every
detail, as he well felt.
He sat upright, with nothing of the pose of the
character he was assuming in his bearing, and
looked at the new-comers.
He could see at once that they were of a type
particularly hateful to him : the small official of
no birth or culture whom chance had thrown to
the surface in the turmoil of the revolution, and
whom chance might, and probably would, throw
to-morrow to the guillotine ; but while their
power lasted they used it brutally, these men,
and enjoyed to deal fiercely with those of the old
One wore the tricolour sash round his rusty
black cloth coat, and the tricolour in his cockade ;
he was perhaps president of the Committee of
Public Safety in Bourg-la-Reine, or perhaps the
Public Prosecutor ; it was obvious that he con-
sidered himself a great man ; in his native town
he was probably bowed down to, being no doubt
for the moment a potent instrument for death
and terror. His companion seemed a kind of
secretary or attendant, subservient and truckhng
to the more important man ; both of them had
the loose ungraceful air of low breed in a position
On their entry both glanced instantly at the
Marquis ; it was no more than a glance from
either of them ; he drew a broken breath of relief
to think that they passed his appearance.
The woman came hurrying in to wait on them ;
they ordered wine lavishly and began talking
noisily together about local politics.
The Marquis foresaw no difiiculty in making
an easy escape, but he waited, considering what
He dare not go back to Paris, he dare not go
on to Bourg-la-Reine ; there was nothing but to
creep back to the disused quarries and hide there
till perhaps the Robespierre tyranny fell ; he had
hoped at first to find means to fly to England, but
without money that had proved impossible.
Still, the idea returned to him now ; it would
be better to risk all on that than to return to the
quarries ; he resolved to push on to the coast ;
there were several people on the way who would
help him could he but reach them ; the food and
rest had put new daring into him ; under the
very eyes of two of the men who would deliver
him to instant and horrible death if they knew him
did he plan calmly his future means of escape.
It occurred to him that this might be the last
chance of food for some while and he was again
When the woman re-entered, attending to the
wants of the citizens of Bourg-la-Reine, he beckoned
to her and asked her in a low tone to prepare him
an omelette before he set out on his journey.
Then, fearful that she might deny him, under
the impression that he could not pay, he took
one of his silver pieces out of his pocket and laid
it on the table.
The woman looked at the money and at him.
" You can stay the night, if you wish, for
that," she said.
*' No, citizeness," he answered. '' I must get on."
" Lodging is dearer in Bourg-la-Reine," she
said. " And what is your need to hasten 1 "
'' I was told of a possible place," he said.
" Likely they will take you ! " she glanced at
Looking beyond her he saw that the two men
had stopped their conversation and were watching
him. The woman moved away and one of the
men (he of the tricolour) stopped her.
" The citizen over there is not very prosperous
looking," he remarked. " Who is he ? "
" A servant looking for a place, citizen."
" He speaks," was the answer, " like an aris-
" He has lived with them, I beHeve, citizen."
" Has he ? " The important man glanced at
his companion, who struck his knee softly and
'' ' Suspect ! ' "—on the face of it ! What did
he order — an omelette ? "
The other stroked his rough chin and spoke to
" Ask the citizen-servant how many eggs go
to his omelette ! "
She stared. '' I know, citizen."
" Certainly, citizeness, but does he ? Ask him."
Condorcet had not heard this conversation
which was spoken very low and in the patois of
the neighbourhood ; he feared, however, that
it might be about him, and was therefore relieved
to hear the simple question the woman put to him
when she returned to his little table by the window.
" How many eggs will you have to your ome-
lette, citizen ? "
" A dozen," answered the Marquis.
He saw instantly by the expression of the
woman's face that he had said the wrong thing.
" A dozen eggs ! " she echoed.
" Is not that the right number, citizeness ? "
She retreated from him and went to the other
two men with amazement and suspicion in her face.
" He said — a dozen eggs," she repeated.
The ojB&cial smiled.
" He is clearly of the people, this citizen, since
he has been able to be so lavish with his omelettes ! "
He rose and crossed over to where the Marquis
'' So you want a dozen eggs for your breakfast,
eh ? " he said.
Condorcet looked at him and hated him ; he
was furious with himself for the slip that had
brought this attention on himself, but he answered
" I have seen omelettes made with as many,
I thought, citizen."
The other eyed him closely.
" You are a servant looking for a place V\
" Yes, citizen."
His questioner stood over him in the attitude
of a judge and thrust his thumbs into his tricolour
sash ; he was noticing the make and look of this
haggard, ragged figure, the shape of his hands,
the pose of the head, the steady gaze of the eyes
unknown in one born in servitude.
" Where have you come from ? "
" You are very tattered, citizen, to have come
such a short way."
Condorcet moved his arms on the table, and
put up the right hand to rest his chin in ; this
attitude, so unconscious, so easy, so coolly re-
flective and authoritative betrayed him utterly ;
the fact that he had not risen when spoken to had
in itself been almost sufficient to confirm the
" I have been out of a place," said the Marquis,
*' some time. I have hopes of another at Bourg-
The other laughed.
" You are a ' suspect,' " he said. " And you
lie very badly."
Condorcet's eyes flashed hell-fire for an instant :
thereby he further betrayed himself. " Who do
you think I am ? " he asked.
" An aristocrat."
" You flatter me, citizen." Condorcet's face
was dark and violent ; he could not keep his tone
humble ; he could not forget that this man might
have been his servant a few years ago — a creature
who would never have presumed to address him ;
all the lessons of the Revolution had not killed
his heritage of aristocratic pride.
" Stand up," said the man from Bourg-la-Reine.
The Marquis kept his seat.
" I stand up when I rise to leave the inn,
citizen," he answered.
The other man was standing watchfully by the
door ; the woman had summoned others ; they might
be seen in the passage, a rough hovering group.
Condorcet knew that he was trapped ; his
nostrils dilated and his thin lips compressed ;
he eyed his enemy steadily.
" Now I will go on my way," he said, and rose —
a gaunt, ragged figure against the background of
sunny chestnut leaves tapping at the thick glass
window-panes. He came round the table and he
walked easily despite his bleeding feet and the
rough boots that galled them. The heavy person
of the ofi&cial barred his way.
" Will you not wait for your dozen eggs ? "
he sneered and put out a thick hand to seize the
Marquis' shoulder, but Condorcet moved swiftly
'' Your insolence " he breathed. " You
have no right to detain me."
The people round the door began laughing ;
Condorcet gave them a bitter look, and in that
instant when his eyes were directed his opponent
seized him and thrust him backwards against the
wall, while he plunged a hand into his torn pocket.
Condorcet shuddered and the blood surged up
into his hollow face while the official pulled out a
small old book with a discoloured calf cover.
" A foreign language ! " he cried, fluttering
over the leaves. " I smell treason ! "
"Is it treason to read Horace ? " asked the
*' Do you — a servant— rea^^ this ? " was the
triumphant counter question. " Eh, do you read
this, then 1 "
The people at the door began to crowd into the
room ; the Marquis took a step forward ; there
was no possible supposing that he would escape
the malice and fury fronting him ; he did not for
an instant hope it ; instinctively, his right hand
went round to his left hip where his sword should
The unmistakable gesture was instantly noticed
and excited murmurs went up from the gathered
" By God, you are an aristocrat ! " cried the
man from Bourg-la-E-eine, seizing him roughly.
" By God I am ! " answered Condorcet, and
struck him across the face. . . .
They fell on him with quick and hideous noises ;
he felt himself seized, struck, shaken, pushed,
dragged, insulted ; he kept his head high and was
They found a rope and tied his arms behind
him, and with the ends of this rope struck him
across the shoulders. The important official,
nursing a smarting face, was incoherent in the
coarse violence of his abuse.
The woman trembled at the edge of the group,
" Who is he V she asked again and again.
They took the question up.
" Who are you ? Scelerat ! "
*' One who has served the Republic," he replied,
white with the pain of his close-bound arms.
They pushed him into the centre of the room
while they paused to consider what they should
do with their prize, and as he stood there, swaying
a little, but upright, the light was full on his face,
which had once been so famous in Paris.
The stern outlines, the dark colouring, the fiery
expression were the same ; unwashed, unshaven,
starved as he was, the little timid man, who had
lived in Paris, recognised him.
" Deauville ! Deauville ! " he shrieked to his
master, dancing in his excitement, " it is Con-
dorcet ! Condorcet ! "
The Marquis made no denial ; his silence was
confirmation and he meant it to be ; he knew
that he was face to face with the end and he was
for no further subterfuge ; he had tasted already
of the depths of humiliation, he was enduring the
extreme of bitterness ; there was nothing further
to lose or gain in this world for Marie Jean Nicolas
Presently, while some were arguing about his
identity, he said in his rough broken voice, with
the clear accent that they hated —
" I am Condorcet. Make an end of it."
They had no more doubts ; his face and his
voice had betrayed him more completely even
than his twelve eggs and his Latin Horace ; they
were elated at the capture of a man so long un-
successfully searched for ; they drank together,
congratulating each other.
Only the woman serving them noticed the
prisoner — noticed the cords cutting his wrists,
the drop of pain on his brow, the effort he was
making to keep upright on his feet.
In a dim, vague way she was aware of the mental
torture he was enduring, compared to which the
torture of cord and bleeding feet was slight ; she
felt that this was a proud man enduring the ex-
tremity of humiliation and that no more awful
bitterness could be imagined in this world.
" He suffers," she said under her breath, " he
Presently they started ; four men and the two
from Bourg-la-Eeine, towards which town's prison
Condorcet was in the middle ; the four with
the prisoner went on foot, the others on horseback.
Strange thoughts came to the Marquis de
Condorcet as he walked bound between his four
rude guards, as he walked painfully, dragging his
fatigued body on bleeding feet along the hot dusty
high-road that led to his prison.
Thoughts strange because they were so in-
congruous to his present situation, and because
it was curious that in his misery he should be filled
with all the old burning pangs of ambition and
desire for power and glory.
And yet he could not even die gloriously ; no
man could have a more ignominious end than he
would have, he knew that. He cursed the body
that had failed him, that had broken like any
peasant's body, that was dragging him down —
demeaning him, bringing all his philosophy to
mockery. His mind flew back over the salient
points of his life ; yet there was no need for him
to consider his past years : one word covered them
all — that word was failure.
Failure — had any failure ever been more bitter,
more complete ?
For he had conceived loftily and dared greatly,
and his fall was terrible and his end abject.
Intolerable became the heat of the sun, intoler-
able the dust on his dry lips, on his hot lids ; in-
tolerable the chafing of his feet, caked with blood
and dirt ; intolerable the deep pain of his elbows
and the cutting of the rope round his wrists ; in-
tolerable the agony of fatigue in his weak body,
already worn to the last endurance. . . .
He concentrated all his mental powers on self-
control ; the man whose mind had flown out into
the widest realms of thought now brought that
same mind to bear on the terrible effort of holding
himself upright, so that he might not, before those
whom he despised, fall face downwards in the dust.
He dare not think how far it was to Bourg-la-
Keine ; he looked ahead of him and could see
nothing — no house, no sign of a town ; only the
dusty hedges, the dusty road. . . .
'' Let me keep upright," he muttered to him-
self, " let me keep upright "
The sky seemed to be burning — blue it was,
but not gentle — he had never understood before
that the sky can be both blue and flaming, as
bitter and fierce as scarlet.
The grass, too, and the trees, they were not
soothing nor peaceful but harsh and glaring.
" How long can I keep upright ? How long
can I walk ? "
He tried to snatch at old mathematical problems,
to soothe and calm and distract himself with that ;
he saw the figures range themselves before him —
but they were of fire, gigantic and flaming.
He thought that the trees had caught fire from
the unsupportable sky, that the hedgerows were
singeing and smoking, that the road was rising up
before him in a column of white fire ; that all this
fiery world was advancing on him ; everything
was scarlet, and there was a sound in his ears like
the beating of many drums.
" He will fall," said the official on horseback,
fanning himself with his hat.
Condorcet heard the words, he saw them
written before him in the same acrid scarlet that
was colouring the world. He tried to protest,
to draw himself erect, for he had heard them
laughing ; but he felt his strength breaking hke
brittle dry straws ; he fell head first as they had
meant him to fall, as he had dreaded to fall, and
his mouth filled with dust.
When they saw that he was indeed unconscious
and that no blows nor kicks could induce him to
rise, they lifted him up and dragged him between
them to Bourg-la-Keine. As they entered the
town he recovered consciousness enough to know
that his martyrdom was complete and that he was
the object of all the town idlers' ridicule as he
was drawn along, ragged, bloody, with a distorted
face, between two of his peasant guards.
They brought him to the prison, an old building
in bad repair ; his head hung down on his breast,
shaking from side to side. The soldiers and jailers
greeted him and his escort with amusement.
" What have we here ? "
" A philosopher citizen — an aristocrat citizen.
In here, citizen, and consider this same philosophy
of yours ! "
They thrust him into a cell several feet below
the ground ; the foul damp of it hung close round
walls and roof.
" The citizen is a little weak in the legs — he
will have a little business to transact in Paris ;
supper and a bed for the citizen."
" Who is he ? "
" Condorcet, citizen."
" Ah, at last — manifestly for the guillotine —
without a trial."
" Without a trial, surely, citizen."
The heavy door closed on him ; the key turned ;
they went away and drank, and in their drink
For a while he lay face downwards on the
cold mud floor ; the rope had been loosened
from his hands ; presently he shook them free and
The cell was half underground and almost
entirely dark ; the high-placed window was heavily
barred across and evidently looked out on some
close courtyard, for the Hght that came from it
was pale and uncertain.
Condorcet rose, shuddering strongly ; the damp
of the place was bitter and insistent, after the heat
without the chill was horrible.
He staggered against the door and flung his
weight against it.
" You ! You ! " he whispered. " You think
you have me ? — No, for I have one friend left."
He slipped down by the door and lay there,
Often had he wondered quite how the end
might come, and speculated how he would meet
it ; in these days a man would naturally consider
a violent death as possible, especially if he meddled
with affairs of government ; but he had never
considered that he would first be so cruelly broken
He regretted that he had fled when Eobespierre
proscribed him ; far better to have died then
than like this. . . . But he closed his mind to
the past, over which he wrote that one word —
The hard bright philosophy of Voltaire, scorn-
ing mystery, cynical of any future state, was of
little comfort now ; his own book on the human
spirit seemed very shallow in the recollection ;
these things were for Hfe, not for death. Nothing
helped now but courage. Just that one quahty
that would bring him safely into the unknown,
the harbour to which he was now so swiftly bound.
He felt very weak and ill ; he shivered continu-
ally, yet his blood was burning with fever ; he
dragged himself into a sitting posture, put his
hand inside his miserable shirt and took from a
cord round his heart — his one friend. A little
package containing a phial — poison, bought in
a cold dawn at a little druggist's in Paris on that
day when he had left the city for ever.
" I have suffered enough," he said. " Enough."
But he put the package back, for he thought
that they meant to bring him food and a bed, and
he would rather die on a bed, and he would rather
ease the horrible burning of his cracked throat by
a draught of water however stale and vile, before
he composed himself to death.
But the time crept on and no one came ; there
was not a sound without ; it was obvious that
they had forgotten him ; the little light began to
fade into Condorcet's endless night.
He rose to his full thin height and a huge
disdain enveloped him ; a quiet silence fell on his
soul ; he knew that he would never speak again ;
there was nothing left now that he could put into
He went to the wall under the window where
the damp oozed in a thin trickle and put his lips
to it, moistening them.
A little longer he waited, but no one came ;
his disdain grew ; his disdain of all things as they
were, as they must be, as they would always be ;
disdain of the world that had seized him, crushed
him, reduced him with all that was fine and noble
and far-reaching and splendid in him, to this ugly
He stooped and pulled up his stockings, fasten-
ing them as neatly as he could under the straps of
his breeches ; then he moved back and tried to
see a star through the window ; but darkness of
masonry blocked his view ; there was no sky
He opened the phial and drank.
" Some one bungled when the world was made,"
He lay down along the floor and closed his eyes ;
and presently he spread his arms out in the form of
a cross. And presently it grew completely dark in
H: !(: ^ H: 4:
In the morning they remembered him and came
to take him to Paris.
A terrible figure with a sealed face was lying
on the damp prison floor, and the people were
spoiled of some sport.
THE BETROTHED OF PEDRO EL
" Joan, contracted to Pedro the Cruel, but died." — History of
" Haro ! Mettes moi une emplastre
Sus le coer, car, quant m'en souvient,
Cette souspirer me couvient
Tant sui plains de melancolie —
^ Elle mouret jone et jolie,
Environ de vingt et deux ans."
I, Abbess of the Nunnery of St. Bertha, which
Heth quietly among the Surrey holmes, am much
given to this art of writing, new to women. Sith
in my time I have written of dogs, hawks and
forestry and tricked out the same with broad and
good emblazons of colour, to the glory of God and
Now, on fair new parchments scented with
the herbs which grow in the convent garden I will
write of Jehanne Plantagenet, who was the daughter
of our late Lord, Edward, King of England and
This King had eight sons and four daughters —
Isabeau, Duchess of Bedford ; Mary, Duchess of
Bretagne ; Margaret, Countess of Pembroke, and
Jehanne, who died unmarried and whom I loved
She was even more goodly to look upon than her
sisters and of a great debonnair gentleness in her
manners, tall with eyen gray as glass and hair of
a rippling gold.
She was very learned in her devotions and
charitable to the poor, having learnt these virtues
from her mother, Philippa.
And she was able with her loom to form noble
pictures of hunts and jousts and saints in fair
colours of blue and red and green, with flowers
on the grass and birds in the trees so that they
were the wonder of all who beheld them ; and her
brother, the Prince Johan, had a saddle-cloth
she had woven with his armories, Kichmond,
Lancastre, Aquitaine and Lincoln, mingled with
the Leopards of England, which was the marvel
of the Spanish Knights when he went with Edward
of Wales and Counciell into Spain to fight the
Free Companies under the Sire Du Guesclin for
the sake of Don Pedro, called Justicar by his
It is about this time I would write ; this Don
Pedro was cast from his throne by Don Enrique
of Trastamare, his half-brother, who was aided
by the French Free Companies that were lured out
of France, where they did much mischief, by the
King of that country, Charles, to plunder and
Now, Pedro and his two daughters, Constantia
and Isabeau, fled to Bordeaux, where our Princes
THE BETROTHED OF PEDRO EL JUSTICAR
were, and besought their protection, which was
given right gladly.
And the English made march through Spain
with thirty thousand men, and there was a cruel
skirmish at Nafara in the spring season, 1367,
and it ended in the discomfiture of Enrique and the
French, and a right evil day for them, for the
English went a-chasing of them and slew them
to a goodly number and set on the throne again
Sir Pedro of Burgundy.
This was a well foughten battle, and one that
gave great renown to our valiant English Knights,
who did acquit themselves with much hardiness
and caused the Knights of Spain to recule before
them in such wise that there was no getting them
to another battle.
And this was the conquest of Spayne; now I
will tell you of London and of Jehanne Plantagenet
whose dame I was.
When came the news of the victory she was
very joyous, and took me out with her on to the
ramparts beyond the Chepe and the Church of
the blessed Saint Paul, where the hawthorn and
the eglantine that hath such a sharp sweet smell
And with her were other maidens who had
Knights at the wars, either in Spayne or Almaine
or with King Wencelaus, and she questioned them
of their lovers and spoke of Sir Johan Chandos in
pleasant seeming, and of Sir Bertram Du Guesclin,
wlio was made prisoner, and she spoke of her
brother's banners and how all had fallen back
before them, and she gave their cry, " St. George,
Gayonne ! " in a laughing voice, across the fields.
Presently she made wreaths of daisies and cast
them down a swift-running stream and watched
them go, joyously ; and still she spoke of the
EngUsh and how they had held their Easter in the
city of Burgos.
So I had great marvel to find her the day after,
pensive in the window, with a sad air, and I asked
her ailment, but with no manner of success ; she
put me by courteously and kept her counsel.
And I who held her in such worship could in
no wise pleasure her, even by speaking of the
adventures in Spayne and her dear brothers,
Edward, Lyon, Edmund and Johan, for she
saddened from day to day, and in the night made
lamentable sorrows which she would give no
reason for, and so from the blithest damosel of
the court she was like to become the saddest.
And it fortuned that I discovered the cause,
for I heard that our lord the King was to conclude
a marriage between this princess and King Don
Pedro of Castile, so to make sure the pact between
them ; certainly I believed this was why she was
so downcast, for she would not leave England ;
yet I had marvel at it, for he of Spayne was a
gentle knight and well renouned then, though
Then the King bid her to him, and in the name
of love and lineage commanded her to this match,
and she durst not deny him, but afterwards she
THE BETROTHED OF PEDRO EL JUSTICAR
came to me and drew me into a window above the
river and spoke to me.
" Dame," she said, " I am to wed the King of
And she took her face in her two hands right
Then I advised me well and answered — ■
" He is a very mighty King and companion
at war to your two noble brothers."
" Dame," she said, " I shall not go to Spayne."
And with great gentleness she sighed.
Now, it was Sunday evening and a great press
of clouds about the sun, all red and violet, and in
the water also these colours and the bridge white
in the glowing brightness, and I looked out on
these things as I answered —
" Ye must do your devoir to your father." And
Jehanne Plantagenet made reply —
" Yea, I will do my devoir, please God, but I
shall not go to Spayne."
And she lifted her head to aview the sunset,
and we heard the sowning of the trumpets as the
companies of the King's archers came into the yard.
Then she took my hands and said —
" Dame Alys, give me leave and I will this day
tell you something — and something heavy withal."
I had great joy and honour in her amours, and
I answered her —
" Behold my heart is as your own."
Whereat she kissed me and said, " Ye shall
hear." And her eyes were troublous of grief as
" Truly," she said, " when I go to bed right
doleful and weary of heart, one comes and parts
the curtains and stands looking at me, and it is
a lady in a gown of samite with a crown on her
hair and rings on her hands, and she looks at me
mournfully and as one who would give me warning."
Then I was amazed, and made reply : "I
desire you by the love of God to tell me who this
Then said Jehanne Plantagenet —
*' I think it is Blaunche of France, who was
first wife to this Don Pedro, and is now in Heaven."
" Surely," I said, " this cannot be. Wherefor
should she give you warning ? "
" Sith you ask me," said Jehanne Plantagenet,
*' I believe she gives me warning that I am to
marry a right dishonourable and migentle Knight
and one that would slay me even as he slew her."
Thereon I, right affrighted, bade her speak
words of good cheer, for this was a grievous thing
she said, and one not for credence that the King
Don Pedro had slain Queen Blaunche.
But the Princess was sure of it, for she vowed
the vision came as a warning.
'' And I," she said, " sith I would rather die
in Westminster than live in Spayne, will not have
Then was I bhthe to tell her of the great feast-
ings there would be for her wedding, both in this
realm and in Spayne, and how she would be a
Queen and have her own court ; howbeit, she put
it all by.
THE BETROTHED OF PEDRO EL JUSTICAR
" Dame Alys," she said, " say no more, for I
have such a love for another man that I may not
bear to leave the place where he is." Then a
two times she gave a little sigh, and I was sore
" Dear lady," I said, " Who is he ? "
She answered me. " A man of war, one of the
divers captains of the King's archers, and I have
such a puissant affection for him that I could not
turn to any other."
There was a while stillness and one without
touched the dulcimere, and I heard the bells ring-
ing from the Abbey of St. Peter, and the sun was
Then Jehanne Plantagenet kneeled down to
*' Peradventure you will be good to me," and
she laid hold of my hands. *' This Knight's name
is Sir Paon de Brambre, and I have never spoken
to him all my Hfe, though every day I see him
and he loves me well. Now I have prayed Christ
and Mary to save my soul alive, and I think to-
night I shall go with my lady Blaunche, but first
I would speak to this Knight I love so well."
All this she said right graciously, but I wept
for ruth while she spoke again.
" Dame Alys, get me this knight here into
my chamber after supper that I may take leave
of him, let him come in full armour with his
And though I broke my devoir I let it be
established between us that I would bring this
captain, and afterwards I found him in a study
in the garden and gave him my message, whereat he
went right pale.
Now, when I returned to the chamber of Jehanne
I found she had Ht it full of fair wax candles and
was seated on the dais clad in a red gown of
Damascus richly besewn ; and she looked pale
and thin, yet joyous, and bade me beside her
until I was to let in secretly the Knight Sir Paon,
which I did presently.
And he was all armed save he carried his
bassenet ; on his arm was a long-pointed shield
painted with his armory, and his face was wasted
and sad and his eyen blue as Thames water.
Right within the door he went on his knees
and folded his hands with never a word.
And from the dais at the other end of the
chamber Jehanne Plantagenet looked at him and
said a-high —
" Sir, in God's name, tell me if you have a great
love for me ? "
And he a little changed countenance and bent
his head very slowly.
" God hath holpen me to this moment," he said,
" but He cannot put it into my mouth to say how
much I love you."
" Sir," she answered him, " ye may always
have me for your lady, and though ye are not rich
in goods or heritage ye shall be rich in this that
she, who was a King's daughter, loved you ex-
ceedingly, and I think you will be a worthy Knight
and one full of honours, and when you have a wife
THE BETROTHED OF PEDRO EL JUSTICAR
I pray you tell her of me and let her be a fair
woman, but as for me I am contracted to a villain
knight in the name of love and lineage, and
yet will not marry him and yet will do my
Then Sir Paon shook in his harness, and I had
great pity of his dolours.
" Fair sir, recomfort yourself," said Jehanne,
" I have lived gaily and shall die loyal. See you
these candles, ten for the ten commandments
whole and unbroken, seven for the seven works of
charity and the seven deadly sins, five for the Five
Wounds and the five senses, three for the Trinity.
Now when I am dead and ye see these burning
about my tomb and the poor people saying prayers
for my soul, I beseech that you shall add a taper
to my memory."
And the water washed his eyen and he could
"As I so greatly loved this goodly town of
London," said Jehanne, " ye, living here, shall
think of me, even at the time of the jousts and the
great feasts, Easter, Christmas and the Holy
Trinity, and remember I ever loved you the alder-
beste of all in the world."
And Sir Paon was sore discomfited that she
should talk of death, and she came down from the
" Truly," she said, " this world is nothing and
love is a great deal, and it matters not at all if we
be dead or ahve if we love — one another."
Then fair and softly she bent a little towards
him and held out her hand, and he took it as if it
had been God His robe and pressed his tears
upon it, but she the while was smiling.
And so they parted, and he went his way and
Jehanne kissed me on the brow and said prayers
before the candles, and then to bed silently.
And I had great ruth of all I had seen that
night and for the dolorous sorrows of these two,
and I wished that two that so loved might have
So I lay awake listening to the bells and the
throstle that now and again moved in the orchard
boughs as it came to the dawning. And presently
I heard sweet words that came from the chamber
of Jehanne Plantagenet.
" Lady Blaunche, Lady Blaunche, have you
come for me ? "
Then I advised with myself well and was very
afraid and sat up in bed, but could by no means
For a long while it was silent, and I rose at last
and went into the inner chamber, and it was cool
with an Eastern Ught.
And Jehanne Plantagenet was lying out with
the chequered curtains of blue and white withdrawn
from her visage and the clothes of the bed straight
over her and no breath at all in her body.
Bound her were burning the candles of fair
and pure wax, and she was surely dead.
And because I felt there were Heavenly Spirits
in the room I kneeled me down, and these two
princesses, Jehanne Plantagenet and Blaunche of
THE BETROTHED OF PEDRO EL JUSTICAR
France, went hand in hand across the orchards to
She was carried through the city she loved
with her visage open and her head on a white
cushion and buried in a painted tomb behind the
High Altar of St. Paul's Church, and Don Pedro
was slain by Don Enrique not long after, and I
kept my peace.
Now Sir Paon de Brambre went to Almaine
and died fighting. . . .
THE MACEDONIAN GEOOM
The Emperor Michael III
How shall I care that I am blind when I have seen
enough colour in my days to fill the rest of meagre
Here in the Monastery in Armenia I have a
little boy to read to me — sometimes Photias,
sometimes John Damascenus the Syrian, sometimes
the Fathers of the Church.
This I buy with the much money saved when
I was in the train of the Emperor Michael now
wailing in Hell.
I am very old and repentant, and soon I shall
swing censers in Heaven, and my eyes shall be
replaced with rubies from God's own throne ; the
scent of crushed roses and ambergris shall soothe
my nostrils and I shall sit close to the gate that I
may look from the gold bars on to the flames of Hell
and see the Emperors there, Michaels, Constantines,
and Leos and presently the Emperor Basil the
Macedonian, being thrust into the deepest pit of all.
It is Christmas eve, and I hear them singing
in the choir . . . such patient men, these monks,
but then very few of them have seen Constanti-
nople. I am richer than they, though blind, for I
THE MACEDONIAN GROOM
I do not miss my sight, for what is there to
see here ? They have no gold nor silver nor
mosaic in their church nor painted curtains or
I shall be glad to gain Heaven that I may see
the shoes of God, crystal, gilt and pointed and His
girdle of great blue stones and the attire of the
angels, fine cambric worked with silks from Persia,
purple of a live blood colour and green like a split
So I talk and the Httle boy writes while they
sing in the chapel ; they humour me because I
am so very old and I despise them all.
To-night I have a loosened tongue ; I could
tell secrets now. . . .
Write, write, write the last scene I saw before
I was blind — how the Sclaronion gained the throne
and how the Amorian died.
Come nearer, for my voice is very weak. What
if this was the last night of all for me and I should
wake to see the banners of God blowing about
His throne ?
So write, for I know more than I have ever
It was the year 866 that the Emperor Michael
surnamed the Drunkard, took for his fellow Emperor
Basil the Macedonian groom. This was reward for
what Basil had done at Kepos, where he had
stabbed the Caesar through the back. This Caesar
Bardas was a clever man, but Basil was more
cunning ; this Bardas the Caesar was uncle to the
Emperor, and had in his time slain Theoktistos,
so he, too, is in Hell, for he died without a prayer.
But I have prayed before the images and given
them robes of silk pleasant to handle. Basil the
groom had come to Constantinople on foot with a
wallet on his back and become a stable boy to an
officer of the court, and once when the Emperor
was driving his own white horses in the Hippo-
drome, he saw this Basil wrestle with a Bulgarian
and overthrow him ; the Macedonian had great
credit for this, and Michael took him into his
service, for he was a man of wonderful strength.
I never saw one taller ; his hair was very
thick bright brown and curling, his face had a
look of hideous power and his neck was massive
as the trunk of a young tree.
He had a great gift with horses, for there was
never one whom he could not subdue with a touch
and a whisper ; soon, it seemed, he had this power
with the Emperor, too, for Michael made him
Chamberlain and cast money into his lap as gifts
are cast before the Images.
Who knew what went on outside the mighty
palace ? I tell you none could guess. . . . But
5^ou have heard of Eudocia Ingerina ; she was
a daughter of the Martinakes, and the Emperor
would have married her, but because her family
was so mighty his mother, Theodora, prevented
this, and he married Eudocia, the daughter of
Dekapolitas. . . .
Then there was Thekla, the sister of Michael,
and she loved Basil, but the Emperor married him
to Eudocia, who would be Empress some way ;
THE MACEDONIAN GROOM
she never forgave it, for he had resigned her for
fear of his mother, vanished now to Gastria, after-
wards to Anthimos.
It was their women behind it all. . . . Those
were great golden days. Eudocia Ingerina, with
the Emperor for her lover and the groom for her
husband, kept the splendid revels gorgeously, but
in her heart she waited for vengeance on Michael
and his mother, on all of them who had debarred
her from the throne — I knew it always.
At one time I was her chamberlain. She was
a woman beautiful and vain ; in my perpetual
darkness I can see her features, her black hair
cHnging to her white shoulders, the plates of gold
and clanging metal, of wine-red and serpent-green
stones about her brow, her long, long eyes and
small mouth, expressionless — her perfumed linen
and her mantles of furs and silver. . . .
It was worth living then ; it is worth living
now to think of it. Write, write the colour, the
glitter, the glory and the power of it, the days
burning into the nights with the lights of a thousand
jewelled lamps glowing behind screens of silk, the
marble halls strewn with flowers, the slaves with
bands of scarlet on their foreheads, the chariot
races, the shouting crowds, the taste of wine and
fruit, the perfect women with heavy hair, the
churches shining with burnished bronze and gold.
. . . Sometimes I dread that Heaven cannot be
so delicious. . . .
In May, then, Michael made Basil Emperor
with him, joint ruler of the Eastern Empire,
sharer of the throne of the Caesars, and in the winter
of that year he gave the imperial title to a third,
Now there were glorious orgies and splendid
riotings of feasts and games ; and each wondered
which Emperor would first slay the other ; and
Michael was grown to be afraid of Basil, who was
changed from a drunken groom into an Emperor
and a graver man.
With this terror on him, he came to Eudocia
Ingerina . . .
Do you think I hear the monks chanting and
see darkness ?
No, I hear the trumpets ; I see the Emperor
Michael with his black hair unbound and his whip
in his hand as he has returned from the Hippo-
drome standing against the leopard cat couch,
while the sun embraces the snakes on his buskins.
And she, Eudocia Ingerina, seated on a stool inset
with opal holding lilies in her hand.
" So," he said, " I am afraid of this Basil
whom I took from the kennels ; he must go swiftly
as he came, Eudocia."
" You made him my husband," she answered,
and threw the hlies down.
The fine silk curtains were lifting in an Eastern
wind ; the sun slipped under them and gilded the
sloping orange walls of Numidian marble and the
girdle of turkis round her waist.
" I am afraid of him," repeated the Emperor,
and he shook.
She looked away and he went on his knees
THE MACEDONIAN GROOM
and laid his head on her lap, dropping the whip
stained with the blood and foam of his horses.
Neither of them had any heed of me standing in
the outer peristyle where the bronze pots of roses
were, nor of the two slaves in tiger skins.
" Do you weep ? " she asked, and lifted his
thick hair in her small round fingers.
He looked up with red eyes.
" Basil is dangerous," he muttered.
She leant towards him delicately.
" Why did you not make me Empress ? " she
questioned, and rose up, repulsing him.
He got to his feet and went swaying down the
corridors with clattering African slaves and Persian
guards after him.
That night at the feast one of his madnesses
came upon the Emperor ; the daemons got hold
of him and he fought them off, howhng ; then he
and Basil and Basiliskian gave commands that the
bodies of the Ikonoclast Emperors be taken from
their tombs, for they were the daemons who haunted
us. And this was wonderful, for by the light of
torches of pine the body of Constantine, fifth of
that name, was dragged from his sarcophagus and
thrown out on to the sand of the circus ; and there
was he, ninety years dead, white as shredded ivory,
clad in cerecloths of tarnished gold and heavy
violet that gave out a thick, sweet scent of spices ;
and there was John the Grammarian beside him,
wdth a Httle crown on his head and hair falling
into dust across his eye-sockets — aha ! we beat
them with rods in the vile quarter of the Amaskianon
where the daemons gather and the people were glad
because they were image worshippers : these two
Emperors could not see, for they were blind, as I
am now. Then we burnt them where the common
thiefs were executed, and the tomb of Constantine
Copronymus was split into fragments to decorate
a church the Emperor built at Pharos.
It was all of green Thessalian marble, here clear
as water, there thick as sap, carved with grapes,
genii, cupids and goats, and in the middle Christ
raised on the Cross with a gilt halo ; it was so rich
and finely carved I think God forgave Michael
much to get it back in His church. Look for it
when you go to Pharos — ^green marble, a hand's
Behold now I ramble on and come not to what
I would say about that evening in the palace of
Anthimos on the coast — the Empress Theodora's
house where she had bid us all . . . Eudocia
Ingerina, Basil, BasiHskian, Thekla and all the court.
Listen to me, I was faithful to Michael, therefore
am I blinded. ... I can tell you everything.
The three Emperors had been hunting that
day, and afterwards there was a mighty feast ;
Eudocia sat by Basil at the table and often
whispered to him.
I was one of those who carried Michael senseless
with wine to his chamber and laid him on his bed
with the vermilion cushions. As I came out I
saw the bolts of the door were broken, but I thought
nothing of it, as it was Theodora's house. On a
low couch with silver and amber legs lay Basiliskian,
THE MACEDONIAN GROOM
with his red hair and his yellow robes tumbled about
him ; I lay in the outer chamber.
Beautiful were those two rooms, tiled with blue,
patterned with carnations and curtained with silks
stiff with fruits and flowers of gold ; above the
couch were saints with long eyes and raised hands,
the elders praying all in white on the daisied floor
of Heaven, this in mosaic, glittering, and a lamp
with square-cut green stones round the base,
Flat on his back lay Michael, with his head
slipping from the pillows and the roses slipping
from his black hair ; his white silk robe flowed
open on his coat of silver and the clusters of topaz
shone in the crossings of his gilt sandals.
The window was wide on the night ; there was
a moon above the tamarisk trees and a nightingale
It was very silent after all the noise and riot,
and I was half asleep when the door was pushed
open and some men entered. There was the
third Emperor Basil, a head above them all, the
Persian Apelates, Bardas the father of Basil, his
brother Marines, a cousin of his, all peasants
these, Peter of Bulgaria and John of Chaldia.
Now I rose up softly and got before them and
stood in front of the bed-chamber door ; for I saw
they were all sober.
Basil put out his great hand and gripped my
" Basil or Michael ? " he asked, and drew his
" Michael," I answered him, for I hated him —
the Greek groom !
With that he Hfted me out of the way, but I
gave a great shout and beat my hand upon the
bronze images and cast them against the tiles so
that they cracked.
Then they pulled me back, and I heard the
nightingale grow louder, and I laughed with rage,
for one struck me with a dagger.
I turned round and saw the Emperor Michael
staggering in the carved wood doorway, the roses
still clinging to his disordered hair. Seeing them,
his wits cleared.
" Basil ! " he shrieked. " I made you Em-
peror ! "
They left me and turned on him, driving him
back into the bedroom, and I lay along the floor
with a dagger through my wrist, listening to his
shrieks that hushed the nightingale.
Dragging myself to the door, I beheld BasiHskian
struggling with the Persian, and saw him fall back
across the couch with his scarlet-shod feet up and
his mouth open, while the blood gurgled out and
hid the wine-stains on his yellow robes.
I did not care for this, but looked for Michael
and called loudly, so that they rushed out, drawing
the curtains behind them and fled into the corridor.
Now none came, for tumults were such common
things, and after a little Basil came back and looked
about him ; and after him followed Eudocia
Ingerina in a green mantle with a lamp of bright
enamel in her hand.
THE MACEDONIAN GROOM
" Have you done it ? " she asked, and I knew
she had set Basil on, though the Emperor Michael
had loved her. " Quick ! Have you done it ? "
" Yes," he said, and the others came back.
" What if he is not dead ? " said John of
Chaldia, and shifted his ivory and silver sabre
in his grasp.
Then she, flashing emerald colours in her robe,
turned on them, and I saw there is more in a woman
than her beauty.
" You are not sure ? " she cried, and held up
the thousand coloured lamp.
" Basiliskian is dead," answered Apelates.
" Is Michael dead ? " she gave back.
As she stepped towards the door I heard the
soft sound her cambric garments made on the iloor,
and saw her eyes fixed before her with an expression
of expectancy and pleasure — eyes like the black
jade they prize in China. But Basil held her back
with his swarthy hand on the edge of her mantle.
On the smooth walls of opal-tinted tiles moon-
light flushed into lamplight that fell tinted with
trembling colour ; I saw the dark trees through
the window and the great space of clear sky. I
pulled at the dagger in my wrist, and I heard the
Emperor Michael lamenting within.
At the sound of it all save the woman drew back.
'' I struck his hands off," said John of Chaldia,
'" and he fell on the ground."
Eudocia Ingerina looked at Basil.
" Will you be Emperor or no ? " she asked.
^' If that man in there is not dead — what are you ? "
His flushed blue eyes rolled towards her ; she
twitched her robe from his grasp and lifted the
thin silk curtains from the carved door.
I, forgotten, caught hold of the ribbings of
scented sandal wood and looked in . . . you
may beheve what I saw, what I was blinded for
The Emperor Michael, Lord of the East, Vice-
regent of God, the last of the Amorian Caesars,
sat on the floor by the gilt and glorious brocades
of his bed.
His hands were smitten off and his garments
trailed with sticky blood ; his head was bowed
on his chest and he uttered bitter complaints.
In his black hair some crimson roses still hung ; the
great rubies and topaz glittered on his breast.
Behind him in the rich murk light I could see the
other Emperor, a huddled heap of red and yellow,
and in the middle of the marble floor (green as the
tomb of Copronymus) the two hands of Michael,
twisted into a clutching shape, with huge and
wonderful rings on the fingers.
With a soft movement like the dappled Persian
deer Eudocia Ingerina stole into the chamber ;
Basil and John of Chaldia were behind her ; she
stopped before Michael ; her lamp showed his
" Well," she said. '' Well, shall I not be an
Empress after all ? "
And she touched him with her foot that was
covered with a shoe of green and violet leather, so
that he looked up from his incoherent lamentations,
THE MACEDONIAN GROOM
He tried to rise at that, could not, but gave a
shudder and raised his arms.
" Eudocia," he said, very loudly, and she
stepped back a little, for he was a hideous sight.
" Come kill this man," she cried ; and then to
Michael : " Who will say masses for you ? " and
'' I would Theodora was here."
Basil drew a little sword with a snake for a
handle and ]\Iichael shrieked, whereon the woman
caught him by his long hair and held him so while
the Macedonian plunged the weapon past the
topaz Gorgon into his heart ; then they both cast
him down and struck at him with their feet, even
while his breast heaved and his eyes moved, and
fled together into the outer chamber.
" To Constantinople," said Basil, and he em-
braced Eudocia and kissed her, after which she
veiled her face with violet and left them. The
blood on her feet was almost the last thing I saw.
For Basil found me crawling by the wall ; and
they took me out and blinded me and sent me
here. . . .
Michael is buried in ChrysopoHs, and his soul
is in Hell ; and Eudocia was an Empress and mother
of the Leo who rules now, and no one but I knows
that she was there that night . . . therefore set
these things down, for I, who am an old blind
monk, shall soon be in Paradise clad warmly in
starred brocade and cambric fine enough to go
through a reed- joint, lying on a couch covered with
soft-coloured woollens, and under my feet a carpet
like was woven in the Peloponnesus to cover the
mosaic in the cliurcli Basil built to assuage God's
wrath at the murder of Michael. Did you ever
hear of it ?
It was one great peacock with a spread tail. . . .
I spoke to a man who had seen it. . . .
So I in Paradise, near, as I said to the gate
(stately as the Adrianople Gate with the church of
St. Diomed near by), shall peep down and see the
Emperors, Leos, Constantines, Michaels, howling
in Hell, and in the midst Basil and the woman
Eudocia, while fiends swing before them censers
of dull earth filled with sulphurs. . . .
H: H: H: ^ H:
So on Christmas Eve I take this down from an
ancient monk who was chamberlain once at the
court of Michael III. and sometimes wanders in
Now he is fallen asleep, and the chants are
over, and I will write no more.
God guard us all from evil. Amen.
Signed by Theophilus, a little scribe in the
Monastery of St. John, Armenia, Christmas Eve,
Sophia Dorothea of Zell
"George I. was married to hia cousin, Sophia Dorothea,
daughter of the Duke of Zell; accused of an intrigue with a
Swedish adventurer, she was repudiated by her husband and
imprisoned in a castle in Hanover for thirty-two years previous to
her death in 1729." — History of England.
December darkened over the dark flats outside
Schloss Alilden ; the sluggish gray river, the barren
gray road stretched into the bitter mist ; above
the stunted alders and broken reeds the plovers
It was the saddest season of the year ; but all
seasons were sad at Schloss Ahlden. Spring and
summer brought little change, save that the
monotony of damp cold was changed for the
monotony of dusty heat. The Schloss had gloomy
towers and careless unadorned rooms ; the scanty
furniture was old and worn ; the servants were
old, too, and had a repressed silent air. There
were not many of these servants ; there were a
great number of guards, changed frequently ;
they were always glad to go — six months seemed a
long time at Schloss Ahlden.
The nearest town was Osnabriick, and that was
many miles away. There was nothing beautiful
nor interesting in all the melancholy country. It
seemed strange that any one should have built a
castle in a spot so barren and dreary ; it seemed
as if he who built must have done so knowing that
one day it would be used as a prison.
A woman had been confined here for thirty-
two years ; her husband was a King, her son would
be a King, she was by her own birth a Princess
and by right Queen of England, a country she had
For thirty-two years she had seen nothing but
the cold, dull rooms, the barren Hayden road, the
flats, the river, the alders and the plovers.
For thirty-two years she had driven three
miles forth, three miles back along that empty
road, stopping always at the turnpike, setting forth
and returning at the same hour.
When she had been brought to Schloss Ahlden
she was gorgeous— a brilliant woman, very young,
vivacious, sparkUng, beautiful, full of wit and
spirit, of courage and daring.
She had defied them all, defied even the per-
petual imprisonment to which she was condemned.
Something would happen, she said.
Nothing had happened.
She sat now, a woman older than age, a woman
who had never bloomed and faded, who had been
frozen in her immature loveliness, chilled by creep-
ing monotony in face and heart, and looked out
at^the light fading from the road and from the river
Aller. The road was dead ; never had it responded
to her passionate watching; no help had ever
come along its dusty length ; no messenger spurring
to say, " Your husband repents ; he bids you
come back," or " Your husband is a King now ;
his people insist that you share his throne," or
" Your husband is dead, and your son sets you
free ! "
Nothing ever happened.
With imbroken regularity her guard was
changed. Such servants as could not endure the
life left ; others came.
These were all the sole incidents in the life at
There were no letters, no messages, no visitors.
Once her son, after a fierce quarrel with his
father, made a desperate attempt to get to her,
but she never knew of it, and soon the Prince was
reconciled with the King and made no effort to
It was astonishing how strong hope was, how
it lived and flourished with nothing to feed on ;
but it died at last, as the black locks faded to gray,
as the robust young body became feeble and thin,
as the glowing cheek sunk and the brilHant eyes
grew dim, hope sickened and died at last.
She watched the white road from habit ; she
ceased to think of it as a highway to deliverance.
As the world had forgotten her, so she began to
forget the world. Great wars tore Europe, and the
man who was her husband and Elector of Hanover
played a big part in them, though through the
chance of birth and from no great merit ; she
never heard of these events.
When he became King of England she did hear
of it, but it made no difference to her situation.
Her name was never spoken outside the walls
of Schloss Ahlden ; she was as remote from the
minds of men, even from the minds of her children,
as if she had been long dead.
A mere memory — Sophia Dorothea of Zell,
repudiated by her husband and a prisoner at
Ahlden — as one might say — Sophia Dorothea of
Zell who died thirty- two years ago and is forgotten.
Her case had caused no sensation ; no party
espoused her cause ; she had no followers, no
adherents, no one planned her escape or pitied her,
or prayed for her ; she was merely forgotten.
Yet she was a living, breathing woman, with
power to feel, to endure, to remember — worst of
all, that remembering.
The dark crept closer round her as she sat
looking out of the window.
The road, the river, the alders, the flats had
come to be like the paintings on prison walls ;
they meant nothing, they did not represent the
world, they circled her as surely as walls and moat,
they changed as little, they were as cruel in their
She had been very worldly, very gay, not in
the least of a cloistered temperament, not given
to caring for things spiritual ; she had enjoyed
Ufe, she had had a great capacity for living fully
and splendidly, a great aptitude for happiness.
She remembered now how she had enjoyed life
once ; it made her feel very, very old.
The world had closed on her early ; she was
not fifteen when her vivacious, mischievous im-
mature beauty had been wedded to her awkward,
slow, selfish young cousin, Georg Ludwig, son of
the Electress of Hanover, who was remotely con-
nected with the royal Stewarts of England.
He had never loved her.
And she had laughed at him, even pitied him,
not realising the power he possessed over her.
Even at twenty-two he had been prosaic, sullen,
ungracious, self-important, a Prince without
culture, or chivalry, or sensibihty, a hard, obsti-
nate man, narrow in heart and brain.
Even her raw ignorance had seen what he lacked.
His unlovely person, short and stout, his dull
blonde face with the pale prominent eyes, his rude
manners and gross self-indulgencies roused aversion
in her ; his good qualities were not those that made
fife any easier for her ; he was brave in every way,
he had much good sense, he was honourable after
his fashion. Some women might have been happy
with him, not the woman he had married, her
bright, impetuous, fastidious nature, avid of en-
joyment, was hideously ill-matched with the
plodding, dull, coarse character of her husband.
Even their children did not bring them together.
When she had been married six years the Eevolution
hurled the last Stewart from the throne of England
and put a Prince of the German Empire in his
place. Soon after a law was passed to secure the
Protestant succession, and this made the Electress
of Hanover heiress to the Throne of England.
For a wliile Sophia Dorothea had exulted in
the prospect of one day being Queen of the second
nation in the world.
She bloomed gloriously; her husband was
openly unfaithful to her. The Httle court was
coarse and sordid and scandalous, but she had
the power of extracting pleasure from her life, of
throwing the glamour of youth and health over
everything. She was frivolous, bold — never suffi-
ciently moved to be indiscreet, though she sailed
near to danger many times.
Then, when she had been married thirteen years,
she met Philip, Count von Konigsmarck.
After that her Hfe had ended as regarded all
those things that made it pleasant, even endurable.
Schloss Ahlden had closed on her youth, her
beauty, her high spirits, her courage. Her hot
passions had flared and wasted and waned without
a vent for thirty-two years, and now she was an
old woman, almost passive.
Almost, not quite. At times her servants were
afraid of her; at times she was like a tigress enraged.
Even after a lifetime of imprisonment, the pas-
sionate spirit at times still ranged and surged against
Once she had had a desperate desire to pass, if
only once, the turnpike on the Hayden road that
marked the limit of her drive.
She would drive the cabriolet herself, drive
furiously as if endeavouring to outstrip the guards
who always galloped alongside. But no matter
how she drove, always at the turnpike she must
turn back. Of late she had not been out at all ;
she spent her days glooming at the window. Her
women had been recently changed ; only one re-
mained, who had been with her all the time, and
she was very old now and sour with long exile from
She, Madame von Arlestein, had been the con-
fidant of the Princess in the old, old days.
The other attendants who came and went, and
the changing ofi&cers of the gloomy little garrison,
said that this austere, bitter old woman really
knew if the Princess was innocent or guilty. Guilty
the world had called her before it had forgotten
her. Those few who still knew her as a living
woman were not so sure.
" Innocent " or '' guilty " were two arbitrary
words with which to divide her conduct. She
had herself always maintained her innocency of
putting another man in her husband's place, as
firmly as that husband had beheved in, and acted
upon, the contrary.
But that she had been guilty of lo^.dng Philip
von Konigsmarck was beyond denial. Whether
he had ever had more of her than the kiss she had
given him when they were discovered together
only Sophia Dorothea and the Countess von
Arlestein knew. For Count Philip had died,
horribly, before the dawn following that fatal
night. No one cared much now, even those who
waited on her, whether she had kept her marriage
vows before God.
Unconsciously they thought of her as pure ;
they could not think one a wanton who had lived
in this awful chastity and renunciation for thirty-
The Captain of the Guard was a young man,
born while she was in prison.
Thinking of what he had already crowded into
his life, he shuddered when he saw the proud,
grievous woman entering the austere little chapel
on Sunday, and reflected that during his infancy,
his childhood, his youth, his young manhood,
she had been doing the same without rest or change,
while the beauty withered on her face and hope
withered in her heart.
As he rode through the courtyard to-night he
looked up at her window, reluctantly but irre-
There was the peaked white blur of her face,
the dark, restless eyes fixed on the twilight land-
scape, the long white hand supporting the sharp
" Herr Jesus ! " he muttered. " Why does
she not die ? "
Sophia Dorothea was thinking the same ; she
wondered what had kept her alive, what had
actually sustained her to grow old — yes, to come
to that horror, to lead this existence to old age.
Why had she not flung away a life so miserable
and died at least in the triumph of youth ?
She envied Philip von Konigsmarck in that he
had not lived to grow old.
Hope had upheld her a certain time, but hope
was dead. She could recall almost the actual
moment when it had finally died, when she had
stood at the window watching the road, and known
at last that no help would come ever along it to
her — known that her husband would not die and
release her ; but still she had lived and grown old.
The dark gathered, descended and settled.
She leant back in the threadbare velvet chair,
and her tired eyes remained fixed on the dusk.
She thought of her husband ; he was an old
man now, but she pictured him as she had last
seen him in the full lustiness of his youth. Her
children were grown to middle life, but she saw
them still in petticoats. Though both were married
and had children of their own, the news had come
to her through her women.
She had once had great hopes in her son ; she
believed that he would have some desire to see
She divined rightly. Though his attempt to
swim the Aller and storm the moat had never
been told her, for a long while she had clung to
the hope that he had some of the chivalry his
father lacked ; but he was a man of forty-five now,
and she was still a prisoner ; that hope had died
with the others. Her daughter was a Queen,
and that was all Sophia Dorothea knew of her.
She soon ceased to think of them. She rose
and went in to her dinner, which was served in the
same room, at the same hour, always, always.
Madame von Arlestein was not there ; she had
the whimsies of old age ; they said she was faihng
The other ladies were cowed and quiet ; they
had not been long with their mistress, and two of
them had already petitioned to go home.
Sophia Dorothea (Princess of Ahlden she was
called, in ghastly compromise between the titles
that were hers by right and the nonentity which
she really was) was an object of terror to these
ladies, by reason of her history, her punishment,
her usual silence and her occasional passionate
lashes of speech.
Her appearance added to this horror she inspired ;
she still wore the fashions that were the mode when
Mary Stewart set them in England and Madame de
Maintenon in France, and this, added to her
arrested beauty, more terrible than old age, made
her Hke a creature resurrected from a dusty grave.
When her clothes were renewed, which was
seldom, they had been cut on the same pattern,
but many of the garments she now wore were
those that she had brought with her when she
had first come to Schloss Ahlden.
She wore now a gown of faded, crackling red
silk, with a short petticoat of frilled blue sarcenet ;
her hair was piled up with the fan-shaped decora-
tion of stiff lace that had been out of fashion a
quarter of a century ; her face had a curious
bleached look : she was not wrinkled, but her
fine features were as faded as her gown ; she
seemed bloodless, waxen, only in her eyes was
that awful look of restlessness in terrible contrast
with the lifelessness of her appearance.
The ladies, each with her own warm life of
human interest as a background for her thoughts,
pitied her and shuddered at her, and in their hearts
they counted the days until they should be relieved
of their posts at Schloss Ahlden.
For an hour, as always, they read and sewed
after dinner, and, as always, the Princess sat rigid,
looking into the fire. In summer she would look
into the empty hearth in the same way ; she had
a great attraction for the fire or the fireplace.
She was never long in a room before she would
turn to it and sit in front of it, staring into the
flames or the grate ready for them.
The ladies, when alone, would sometimes dare
to breathe the rumour that accounted for this ;
it was almost too horrid for utterance. It had to
do with the manner in which PhiHp von Konigs-
marck had died.
At the usual time the chaplain came, the un-
alterable prayer was uttered ; the ladies took up
their candles, curtsied and waited for the Princess
to precede them upstairs.
She, as always, went up to her cold, unadorned
room, was undressed and dismissed the ladies,
then stood by the great bed with the blue tapestry
curtains and sent for Madame von Arlestein.
To-night she did not get into bed ; she put on
a blue bed-gown and went to the fire that blazed,
log on log, in the open hearth, but could not do more
than warm a portion of the huge draughty room.
This bedroom had been hers ever since she had
been at Schloss Ahlden, and nothing in it had been
The bed stood out into the room facing the
fireplace, shrouded with heavy curtains and heavy
draperies ; either side was a sconce of silver hold-
ing five candles against the wooden walls, at the
foot was a long casket for clothes and either side
of that a leather chair with a fringe round the seat.
The door was to the right of the bed, the mul-
lioned windows to the left ; they were hung with
dark curtains and before each of them were two
more of the formal chairs.
In the corner beyond the windows was a plain
dressing-table holding a few toilet articles, and
behind it hung a mirror in a tortoise-shell frame.
Before the fireplace were a chair with arms in
which Sophia Dorothea now sat and a stool.
Beyond the fireplace were a desk and an up-
right press for clothes.
On the polished floor lay a worn carpet ; the
ceiling hung low and dark ; above the mantel-
shelf stood another mirror, and four candles and
a clock were reflected in its murky depths.
Firelight and candlehght together caught the
shadow of the woman in the chair and flung it
large and leaping over wall and ceiling.
At her usual time, neither a minute early nor
a minute late, Madame von Arlestein entered.
Her head was swathed in black lace and her
shoulders in a black shawl ; her black skirts were
wide and stiff and rustling. She held a length of
fine white mushn that she had been embroidering
for twenty years.
As always, she seated herself on the stool, and
the delicate needle, guided by her wrinkled hands,
flew in and out the embroidery that was beginning
to be yellow with age.
Sophia Dorothea sat erect in her chair, the
black hair, streaked with white as with powder,
hung, still thick in the ruins of its beauty, about
her shoulders. The firelight softened and warmed
the sharp lines of her face and gave a sparkle to
her still glorious eyes.
*' Annette," she said, " I have been thinking
of Philip von Konigsmarck to-night."
The old woman looked up from her eternal
" Oh, Madame," she answered, " you have not
spoken that name for many, many years."
" Not for thirty-two years," said the Princess.
'' I know exactly."
" Why now ? " asked Annette von Arlestein.
" Have you forgotten him ? " counter-ques-
tioned Sophia Dorothea.
" You remember it all? "
" All ! "
'' It seems very near to-night," said the Princess.
'' Yes, I thought so too."
The old woman broke her invariable custom
and laid her sewing down in her lap and looked at
" Perhaps death is coming to one of us," added
Sophia Dorothea. " We are both old. My death
would be a rehef to a great many. Even you would
not be sorry, Annette."
She spoke knowing that Annette von Ailestein
had not shared her imprisonment from any love
or duty, but from necessity. She was as much a
prisoner as her mistress. It had been decreed
that she who had shared the shame should share
" It is too late," said the Countess. " Twenty
years ago I might have wished you would die.
Twenty years ago I might have cursed you."
The quenchless dark eyes gleamed across at her.
'* You would not have stayed if you could have
gone. No one else did."
Annette von Arlestein gave a toothless smile.
" No, I should have gone — when I was younger.
Life is dull here."
Sophia gave her a ghastly look.
" Yes, it is dull."
A storm was blowing without. The wind cast
the rain in gouts on the window ; it dripped from
the leads and splashed down the wide chinniey
m heavy drops that hissed on the logs.
" Why do you not finish your sewing ? " asked the
Princess. " I have never seen you sit idle before."
" "Why did you mention Count von Konigs-
marck 1 " repHed Madame von Arlestein. " I
have never heard you speak of him before."
" Every night lately I have been thinking of
him. You know that."
" Yes, I know that."
Like an angry stranger demanding admission,
the rain surged at the window and the faded
curtains rose and fell in the wind.
" Annette," said Sopliia Dorothea, " why have
we lived, you and I ? We could have died, you
know. There was the moat, or a table-knife —
or a bed-cord. But we lived."
*' I suppose," answered the old woman, " we
" Mein Gott ! We hoped ! "
The Countess looked across at her with dim
eyes that seemed to glimmer with mahce. "But
now — if he died to-morrow, it would be too late.
There is no more enjoyment for you in this world."
'' No more for me of anything," said her mistress
calmly. '* Konigsmarck is dead and youth is
" Why are we talking of this ? " asked the old
woman peevishly, *' when we have been silent so
long ? "
*' I do not know. Get on with your embroidery."
** Ber Hen Jesus ! Why should I finish this
work ? Who will wear it ? "
" Talk, then, talk," said Sophia Dorothea.
" Something is different to-night."
" It is the rain," nodded the old woman. Her
monstrous shadow wavered behind her like a giant
'' It is memory," answered the Princess. She
relaxed in her chair. Her arms, still lovely but
colourless as the Hmbs of the dead, showed where
the wide sleeves of dull blue fell apart, and her
hands, almost inhumanly slender, clasped the
pohshed knobs of the chair-arms. " Was I beauti-
ful — that night ? " she said. " I scarcely knew it."
Annette von Arlestein looked at the ruined
face, pale beneath the grey locks, the thin bare
throat, the sunk dark eyes, the lined mouth.
" I can hardly recall what you were," she muttered ;
" I can hardly think you are the same."
A veil seemed to drop over her eyes ; she too
" Annette," said the Princess, " do you think
he has been just to me ? "
*' It is so long ago," whispered the Countess.
" He has enjoyed these thirty- two years,'*
replied Sophia Dorothea. " He is an old man
now ; he cannot be very far off answering to
judgment. I wonder what God will think of what
he has done to me."
The Countess chuckled. Neither of these
women had drawn nearer Heaven themselves
during their captivity, no thoughts of spiritual
consolations had sweetened the bitterness of their
earthly punishment and no repentance had
softened their hearts.
" There has always been one prick in his side,"
said Annette von Arlestein. " He was never
sure — ^he had no froof. There has been a doubt
with him all his life. He will never know."
" No one knows but you and I," answered the
Princess. She leant forward and looked into
the fire. " How I hate him ! " she said slowly.
** What is he doing at this moment — the King of
England — that cold, hideous man ? "
" If curses could have blighted him," mumbled
the old Countess angrily, '' mine had done it long
ago. When he sent me here I still had blood in
my veins ; I enjoyed the world — I had my plans,
and schemes, my pleasant seasons "
The Princess rose ; her figure was yet erect and
graceful ; the warm lights and shades touched it
to youthful curves.
" Was there anything in the marriage service,"
she said, " to say that he should take his pleasures
and his loves where he would and that I must
never look beyond my wedding ring ? "
She held out her left hand and looked at the
mocking symbol on her finger placed there forty-
six years ago by the man who held her captive now.
*' You might have had more of life," said the
Countess. " The punishment could not have been
greater if you had changed your fancies as he
changed his ! " She laughed silently, as if it
pleased her to think how her mistress had been
There was a pause of silence, broken only by
the gusty descent of the rain on the window and
the splashing of the drops on the glowing logs.
Sophia Dorothea closed her eyes.
" Do you remember," she murmured, and her
expression was greedy as the expression of one
ghmpsing the food he is famishing for, " that
night — how young I was ? "
" Do I remember ? It was the last thing that
ever happened to me," answered Annette von
Before the mental vision of both the tragedy
that had been lying silently in their hearts so
long loomed suddenly clear and distinct, as if it
had happened yesterday. There was silence.
They saw the scene before them as if they had
not been actors in it.
A luxurious bedroom, a white and gilt imitation
of Versailles, filled with elegant furniture, fashion-
able toilet articles and splendid clothes, a bed of\
white satin and many mirrors — this was what
they both saw.
All was brilliant, pretty and cheerful.
At the foot of the bed stood a beautiful woman,
Sophia Dorothea, opulent in charms and happi-
ness ; her black hair rolled in curls between a
braid of pearls and fell on her soft shoulders.
White and crimson mingled ravishingly in her
face and her dark eyes were soft, yet sparkling.
She wore a gown of white brocade, cut low on
the bosom and laced across the muslin shift with
a pink cord ; the skirt was embroidered with little
wreaths of blue roses ; the petticoat glimmered
with gold thread.
The candles were lit.
Near her stood a handsome creature, Annette
von Arlestein, full of sparkle and daring, in a violet
gown ; she held a blue quilted cloak. On the peach-
coloured lining the candle light flickered up and
They were both listening . . . waiting. . . .
" Then you put the cloak on me," said the
Princess, *' and we thought we were so safe — he
being away — and I went downstairs."
Madame von Arlestein saw it — the lovely
figure muffled in the dark cloak, creeping down the
wide, dark stajrs, while she stood at the head
with a candle, ready to put her hand over it at the
'* Then you followed, Annette, to keep watch.
I was a fool to go, but he had to leave soon, and I
was mad to see him."
" And the Elector was coming home the next
day," added the old woman.
Another scene rose before them : the vast
dark kitchens beneath the dining-hall that opened
on to the back entrance to the palace.
This room was underground, but was lit by the
perpetual fire that burnt in the huge grate.
And then, to the memory of both, came the
most tragic figure in the tragedy. In the glow of
the great fire stood a young man, Philip von
Konigsmarck, one of a wild and unfortunate
family ; his brother Charles and his sister Aurora
were sadly known to fame, but neither had a fate
so dark as his. . . . Wind and rain increased in
violence and swept and howled round the towers of
Schloss Ahlden and beat in at the draughty window
of the Princess's bedroom.
She put her hands over her eyes ; memory was
becoming so strong that she felt herself back in
that moment she had not talked of for thirty-two
" The kitchen was very large," she said, " and
he stood waiting for me. Do you remember him,
Annette ? "
" Hen Jesus ! " muttered the old woman.
" He had on a great coat — light — and black satms
under it and high soft boots and a little useless
sword with a steel tassle — and a steinkirk cravat.
They were fashionable that year, pulled through
the buttonhole of the waistcoat "
The Princess did not move her hand from her
eyes ; she saw all these details. She saw more ;
she saw the young Swede's passionate face, his
deep blue eyes, the cluster of his blonde hair on
" You stood at the door," she said, " and we
both forgot you, and then "
The bright young beauty had gone straight to
her lover's arms, and without a word they had
Then he had drawn her to the settle, and she
had sat beside him, loosening her cloak, and on
her throat, her shoulders, her arms he had kissed
And presently he had gone on his knees and
kissed her gown and her cloak and her hands.
The while they never spoke a word, and the
Countess von Arlestein watched by the big door.
'' You did not hear them come," said the
Princess, dropping her hand from her eyes.
''No," answered the old woman. " The first
I knew of them was when the door opened "
They could both see that too, in their memory —
the door opening on Prince Georg, whose pale eyes
saw the Electress in the arms of Philip von Konigs-
marck while his lips rested on her brow.
A woman had betrayed them : a jealous
woman enamoured of the young Count had brought
the Elector back a day before he was due and sent
him here to the kitchens, which the spy had dis-
covered was the meeting-place.
Sophia Dorothea remembered how she had lifted
her head from her lover's shoulder to see her husband
standing within the door, four officers behind him
and a fifth holding Madame von Arlestein.
" I am glad I kissed him again," she muttered.
" The fireHght was full in the room — like this,"
said the old woman. Her blurred eyes gleamed
madly ; she seemed inspired by her memories.
She got to her feet, and the embroideries fell to
the hearth. " He fought for you — with his silly
little court sword — but he was one to four, all
well armed "
*' The Elector held my wrists," said the
Princess, " and I had never known he was so
strong. ... I struggled ; Mein Gott, how fiercely !
but I could not shake his hands."
" They had me against the wall with a bare
blade at my breast, and I never moved," added
the Countess. '' They had him down — then she
came in, the spy, the traitress. ' Eh, Konigs-
marck,' she said (how she had always hated you !),
and she set her heel on his mouth as he writhed "
" And I cursed her," whispered Sophia Dorothea,
" and I cursed him and the children I had borne
" Ay, you cursed ; but they picked him up
" Stop ! " shrieked the Princess. " Have I not
lived with that all these years ? He was dead."
" I hope he was dead," said the Countess ;
" but the Elector hoped he was alive when the oven
door was shut. AVhat did she say ? * This is not
the couch my lord looked for to-night. Your
oven takes dainty meat, Serenity ! ' "
*' I bit his thumb to the bone," answered the
Princess, clutching the edge of the mantelshelf.
" Oh, Jesus, Jesus ! "
"Why should the High God hear you?"
sneered the old woman.
" I have lain awake at night remembering that
I hurt him. He cried out under his breath, and
there was blood on his lace "
" And he struck you in the face as the others
stepped back from the fire and gave you a vile
*' It was the last word he ever spoke to me."
*' Aye," muttered the Countess, ** we were
dragged upstairs and cast into a coach, and no one
there ever saw us again nor spoke our names."
'* They drove us through the night to Schloss
Ahlden . . . thirty- two years ago."
The Princess paced up and down the hearth.
" I have thought of so many things — if he would
have been different, if he had ever loved me — it was
the hate of fourteen years vented then — if Phihp
von Konigsmarck cursed me when he saw he was
She drew a deep breath and put her pallid
fingers to her pallid face.
I kissed him again," she said, " when all was
With a fumbling gesture Madame von Arlestein
groped for her sewing. " Why do we rip up this ? "
" I have never been kissed since," added Sophia
The Countess pointed a skinny finger at the
" We have never been so late before. Get to
your bed. Highness."
" Not to-night — ^never since by man, woman
nor child — stay with me to-night."
" Why should I stay ? I want my sleep."
" Who could sleep to-night ? Hark at the
She moved to the upright press in the corner
and opened the doors, showing a gulf of shadow.
As she stood there with one hand on either
wing of the door, she looked like one peering with
calmly curious eyes beyond the portals of the
" Why did we recall it all to-night ? " whimpered
Madame von Arlestein. " I have lost my needle
and the thread is entangled."
She pulled discontentedly at her sewing.
Sophia Dorothea stepped into the press and
sought among the clothes.
" What are you doing ? " asked Madame von
The Princess stepped out of the press with a
dress across her arm.
A dress of faded white brocade embroidered
with wreaths of blue roses and a petticoat gleam-
ing dully with tarnished gold thread.
" Der Hen Jesus ! " cried the Countess.
The Princess closed the press ; then she threw
off her gown and stood a wraith-like figure in her
With a ghastly look she put on the brocade,
which rustled drearily as if it groaned at being
drawn from its tomb. She laced it across the
bosom with the pink cord, she spread out the
skirts, she shook the yellow lace into place.
With a steady step she crossed the room to the
" In the fireHght, in the firehght, like this, eh,
Annette 1 "
" What has happened to you ? " quavered the
" I do not know," answered the Princess. " I
feel strange to-night, almost as if hope had come
once more ; almost as if I should never see the
flats and the road and the Aller again ; almost as
if I should never count the plovers again nor drive
three miles forth, three miles back along the
Hayden road ; almost as if PhiHp von Konigsmarck
" It is the wind," said the Countess.
The storm wailed and shuddered without, and
splash, splash fell the rain from the leads.
" It brings the ghosts," she added. She peered
at the clock. " Mein Gott ! It is—twenty minutes
after one. You should be in bed," she added,
" Do you think I have ever slept at the hour
of one to two any night of all the long nights
here ? " answered Sophia Dorothea. " But this
is the first time I have passed it in this dress — in
" There was a great clock in the corner," said
Madame von Arlestein in her indistinct, failing
voice, " and when they shut him in it was just
" Do you think," asked the Princess violently,
" that I did not hear it ? "
She came again to the hearth, moving with the
rigidity of age ; the brocade hung loosely on her
hollowed form, showing how the soft flesh that
had once filled it out had shrunk and withered.
" What a life mine has been," she said, standing
as if she Hstened to the wind ; " that one night
and thirty-two years to think over it. For I have
never been able to think of anything else, Annette."
" Twenty minutes after one," mumbled the
Countess ; " that was the time you opened the
door and stepped into the kitchen "
The Princess put her hand to her bosom.
" Annette, Annette, are there no spells to con-
jure him back ? But if he came he would not
know us — two old women ! "
" Get to bed," answered the Countess von
Arlestein. " I am tired."
" Go then — ^leave me," said her mistress.
The old woman took one of the candles from
the mantelpiece ; her hand shook so that the wax
ran down the stick and over her fingers.
" One word," the Princess turned commanding
eyes on her. " If I should die first, Annette, you
will never let them know the truth."
" I have forgotten the truth," returned the
other with something of a sneer.
" No — you know it — you and I only. Guilty,
they say ; but some say, perhaps my son says,
innocent. Let it remain unsolved."
" Whatever I said would not be believed now,
and I am older than you ; I shall die first. Oh,
content you. Serenity, I shall not speak."
She moved slowly, a bunchy black figm-e,
towards the door, which she pulled open on the
Holding aloft her candle, she peered into this
'' It is so late ; the lights are out," she
quavered, " and I am afraid of the ghosts in
" If lie thought in his heart that I might be
innocent, it would trouble him on the day of his
death, I think," said the Princess. She seated
herself in the worn chair. " I feel very cold,"
Madame von Arlestein turned back into the
room and let the door swing to behind her.
" My eyes dazzle with the firelight," said
Sophia Dorothea. " Something is going to happen
— at last."
*' It was speaking of the past," answered the
Countess. " Why did we when we had been silent
so long ? "
" I have described a circle," murmured the
Princess, ** and I am back again to that night."
" You are ill. I will call some one "
" No," said her mistress in a terrible voice.
" Call no one."
The Countess replaced the candle on the
" Will you pray ? "
" Why should I pray ? My prayers were
exhausted long ago."
Her head drooped to one side.
" Get to your bed," she added. " Leave me
here. The fire is falling out, and when it is dead I
will go to bed. But now I want to keep watch."
" Keep watch ? "
" I am waiting."
The storm was subsiding ; the casements
rattled sHghtly and mournfully and the rain
splashed with a more gentle violence against the
The firelight glimmered along the stif! folds
of the white brocade and sparkled in the tarnished
gold threads of the petticoat. Sophia Dorothea,
gaunt and white, was flushed by this warm glow
that was growing fainter and dying as the logs
broke and fell into ashes.
For some minutes she sat so ; then she looked
up at the old woman leaning over her.
" Remember," she said, " never tell."
Utter silence again, save for the mutter of the
departing wind and the patter of the ceasing
" She is ill," muttered Madame von Arlestein,
aud hobbled to the door.
She clapped her hands and cried out for help
in a feeble voice that fell uselessly, unheard, into
the dark passages of Schloss Ahlden.
Then came a sound that silenced her, the clock
" Ach, Gott in Himmel ! " she muttered, cold
with fright. "I heard that oven door closing
She hurried back to her mistress, the clear
clang of iron still in her ears.
Sophia Dorothea lay back in her chair ; her
face was tilted upwards ; she looked as fresh, as
beautiful, as young as on that night thirty-two
years ago. There seemed no white in her hair
and her limbs filled triumphantly the rich brocade.
" I am getting bhnd," said Annette von Arle-
stein, " and this cursed firelight — but you look as
you looked then " She peered closer and gave
a cracked scream.
It was a corpse she stared at ; Sophia Dorothea
THE YELLOW INTAGLIO
Giovanni Pico della Mirandola
"D. M. c.
Johannes jacet hie Mirandula caetera morut
Et Tagus et Ganges forsan et Antipodes
Ob. an. sal. McLXXXIII. vix. an. XXXII.
Hieronimus Beninienius ne disiunetus post mortem locus orsa
separet quor animas
In vita coniunxit amor hao humo
supposita ponu curarit
Ob. an. M.D.XXXXII. vix. an. Ixxxix Mens, vi."
Tablet to Giovanni Pico della Mirandola in the Church of St.
Giovanni Pico, Conte della Mirandola, sat at the
window of his apartment ; the midday glow of a
gentle winter sun was on his face ; against the
straight pink-toned marble front of the Palazzo
opposite three dark pines rose and flmig their
long shadows up the street. The November sky
was clear and cold in colour — the blue of chilly
Below in the street was silence, and in the
chamber with the dull terra-cotta walls and sand-
stone floor was silence too.
Giovanni Pico was ill of slow fever that had
long sucked his strength. He sat in a pohshed
chair with gilt on it, and rested his long white hands
on the sides of it ; he wore a straight robe of soft
red from his ears to his ankles ; his sleeves were
tight, and of gold net over orange velvet, and fell
in embroidered points to his finger tips.
Round the high, close collar of his gown was
a fine chain of silver and amber beads, which,
passing several times round his throat, fell to
His hair, which was smooth and thick and fair,
was parted in the middle and combed either side
of his face ; it fell in large curls on his breast and
was finely scented. His countenance was sweet
and good and lovely, the gray eyes large and
gentle, the lips calm and sweetly curved. Ati
present he was very pale, and there was a stillnessj
in his expression and a motionlessness in his atti-J
tude that made his head and bust look like a carving
in tinted alabaster.
The chamber was simple but beautiful. A
low bed covered with silk draperies stood in one
corner and near it was a table bearing costly books ;
and a silver lamp. i
On a dark cabinet stood a little broken figure
of Tanagra, showing a dancing woman with a full
robe held out ; near her was an elusive glass of
blue colour on a milk-white stem, Hke a bubble
trembling to disperse. Above the bed hung a
black crucifix: and under it a red light burned with
a quivering flame.
A scent of sandal-wood, nard and spikenard,
was in the chamber ; stirred occasionally by the
breeze that whispered over Florence and entered
THE YELLOW INTAGLIO
the open window, this perfume strengthened and
was wafted out into the street.
The sick man never moved as the hours went
by ; save that his eyes were opened and fixed
with an enigmatic look on the quiet street below,
he might have been asleep.
This young man, who sat alone gazing at
Florence this November midday was one of the
most famous people in Italy. The " Phoenix of
Genius," they called him, and he had early been
renowned for his precocious learning, his vast
industry, his beauty and his noble nature. To
all his qualities his princely rank gave lustre ;
he had been one of the most intimate friends of
Lorenzo il Magnifico, and there was no one who
could excel the brilHance of his reputation. As a
prince who preferred letters to arms and distinc-
tion in the arts to any other ambition, he was
unique ; no man could ever have been more
courted and praised and extolled than this man
But to-day he was forgotten.
For it was the day fixed for the entry of the
King of France into Florence, and though he came
under the pretence of peace and an invitation to
a treaty, he came stained with Italian blood and
in the guise of a conqueror. And the Conte della
Mirandola had been among the brightest in the
bright rule of the resplendent Medici. Giovanni
Pico had been at the death-bed of the great Lorenzo,
who had spoken almost his last words to the gentle
youth who had heard the Friar he had brought to
Florence, Fra Girolamo, refuse the haughty ruler
absolution unless he gave Florence her liberty.
And Lorenzo had turned his face to the wall and
refused, and died with his sins on his head, and
now his sons were eating the bread of charity in
Eome, and Fra Girolamo was the greatest man in
Florence, and Charles of France was entering the
proud city at the twenty-first hour to-day.
Giovanni Pico thought of these things and of
his dead friend, Lorenzo dei Medici ; he believed
that it was better for that Prince to have died,
in pain of soul, than to have lived to see Florence
to-day, changed indeed as it was since the days of
The Conte della Mirandola was changed also.
It would have amazed Lorenzo to know that his
most brilliant courtier was yearning for the plain
habit of the brotherhood of St. Mark, and that the
most learned and splendid noble in Florence
wished to leave the world and follow Fra Girolamo
Savonarola the steep way to Heaven.
But so it was with Giovanni. For some years
past the eloquence of the Friar had wrought
much with him ; and lately, as the fierce pohtics
of Italy sifted and clashed — as all the things he
had known and loved fell and were broken —
Giovanni Pico turned, as so many of the Florentines,
to the shelter ofiered by the brotherhood of St.
Now, as he gazed down into the empty street,
he wished that he had not so long delayed ; he
wished that he was, even now, in the dark robe
THE YELLOW INTAGLIO
of a brother of St. Mark, lying in his cell, face down-
wards, before the crucifii, praying for mercy for
his soul and for those long years he had filled
with worldly learning and in following the vain
shadows of heathen philosophy.
He moved his fair head and sighed and lifted
his right hand vaguely and looked at it. On the
second finger was a yellow intaglio of a bull wreathed
with flowers. It gave him pleasure even now in
the midst of his thoughts of God. He watched the
liquid Hght sHp in and out of it in gUnts of amber
and gold, and in looking at the exquisite workman-
ship and reflecting that there was not such another
in the world, he forgot the convent of St. Mark
in his joy in the heathen jewel.
The red hanging was lifted from the doorway
and a dark figure entered — a monk in a russet
gown, with a thin face and ardent eyes.
The young Prince looked up.
" Fra Girolamo ! "
Savonarola approached him, looked at him
with some tenderness in his harsh features.
" Why are you at the window ? " he asked.
Giovanni Pico smiled in a melancholy manner.
" I wish to see the French," he answered. " Seated
here I can view them, where the street ends,
He raised his pure face.
" On such a day as this can you find time for
me ? " he murmured.
Fra Girolamo's eyes were flaming and troubled
with many thoughts.
GOD'S PLAYTHINGS 1
" It was you who persuaded the Medici to
summon me to Florence," he said. "But for
you I should never have been here, doing what I
can to save the city. Judge, then, if I cannot
find time to come and watch with you a little w^hen
you are sick."
" So sick ! " smiled Giovanni. " I feel as if
I was very old and had outlived all that I ever
loved. What are my attainments now, or the
praises I garnered? Where is the Prince who
flattered me and the courtiers who bowed down 1
Gone, leaving a great emptiness; and you are
the one person now who can bring me peace."
" Will you follow the Lord 1 " asked Fra
"I will. I will leave the world; though I
am ' lighter than vanity,' I have the strength to
do that. I will be one of your humble friars.
Hark, what was that % "
A sound of trumpets quivered in the gentle
stiUness, and the sick man leant forward, gripping
the arms of his chair.
" The French," said Savonarola, and stepped
out on to the balcony. " We have no fear of them ;
they come to treat with the Republic, not to conquer
her, and Capponi is stronger than King Charles."
He might have added that he was himself
stronger than either, and that when he had
walked into the French camp to warn the King
of the Lord's wrath if he behaved dishonourably
to Florence that monarch had cowered before him.
Still, the fact was that King Charles had come
THE YELLOW INTAGLIO
as a conqueror into Italy, and that a foreign army
was entering Florence, and this fact rankled in
the mind of both Dominican and noble.
Giovanni Pico rang the silver handbell on the
table near him, and two pages came from the next
apartment. The Prince bade them lift him up
and carry him out on to the balcony, which was
done ; and he hung weak as a woman between
them, yet managed with their help to reach the
balcony, and supported against the stone balustrade
to stand feebly in the sunshine.
At the end of the street, a couple of houses
away, was a good view of the Ponte Vecchio
which spanned the Arno, and was to-day gaily
decorated with flags and triumphal arches.
A great crowd of people had already assembled,
and were running to and fro, shouting and laugh-
ing and hustling against one another ; some had
already overflowed into this side-street, which a
while before had been so quiet, while at every
window heads appeared and figures began to show
on the roofs. Most of the houses were hung with
arras and flags.
" We have no decoration," said Pico della
Savonarola gave him a quick look, then passed
into the chamber ; he seemed hke a man exalted
in his soul.
But the friend of Lorenzo dei Medici remained
on the balcony, supported by his pages and leaning
on the stone that was pale gold in the winter sun.
A huge noise encroached on the lesser noises of
the crowd— a noise like the din of an enormous
fair, beating of drums, blowing pipes, and the shriek
of trumpets, the clatter of arms and the sound of
horses' hoofs and horses' harness as they jostled
A varie-coloured throng came jostling over the
bridge ; the foremost, before whom a little space
was with some difficulty cleared, was mounted on
a tall and handsome charger, over which a gorgeous
baldaquin was upheld.
Giovanni noticed that this man was riding with
his lance levelled— the sign of a conqueror ; and
as he hesitated, not knowing' which way to turn,
the Florentine had a good view of his person,
which was extraordinarily misshapen.
He wore black velvet, and sat hunched together
on the saddle, his body being prodigiously small,
his legs long and twisted, his feet huge and deformed.
A rich and cumbersome mantle of cloth of gold hung
from his shoulders, emphasizing the meanness of
his presence ; his head was huge and lolled on his
chest; his mouth was gaping; his hair so pale
as to be almost white. This was all Giovanni
could see of his face before a footman seized his
bridle and he was guided out of sight.
Giovanni knew this horseman for the King of
France. He was followed by four big drums
played at the double, and two pipes ; and close
behind him, endeavouring to regain their places
at his side, which they had lost in the jostle of the
turning, came the two Cardinals of St. Piero in
Vincoli St. Malo, and at a short distance some
THE YELLOW INTAGLIO
French Marshals, who were closely followed by
the Royal bodyguard of bowmen ; then some
French knights on foot and the Swiss vanguard—
the finest infantry in Europe, splendid in many
colours, bearing burnished street-halberds and dis-
tinguished by the waving plumes on the helmets of
After them came the agile, small, Gascon
Infantry, and then the gorgeous Cavalry, the finest
knights among the French aristocracy, glittermg
in their gold and silver armour, their brocade
mantles, their chains of gold and sparkHng jewels.
Above their heads floated the silk pennons they
carried, while the velvet banners clung round their
poles in the breezeless air.
Tall and fierce-looking Scotch archers armed
with terrible and heavy weapons came after these.
The French Artillery had gone on to Rome by
another route, and there were no guns with the
army ; but their numbers, their strange attire
and stranger weapons, the richness of their appoint-
ments, the discipUne they used in their marching,
made them a new and terrifying spectacle to a
city that only knew mercenaries.
The knights, soldiers, and archers were still
pouring over the bridge when Giovanni whispered
to his pages to help him back to his chair.
He sank into it in his old attitude— his hands
on the arms, his head resting against the back ;
only now his eyes were closed, and the steady
sound of the passing army was in his ears.
Girolamo Savonarola stood in the corner of
the chamber ; he also was listening to the sounds
of the French entering Florence, and though he
stood very still, with his hands on his breast, there
was something triumphant in his face.
" Fra Girolamo," said Giovanni under his
breath, " if I — should not live to enter your order,
will you bury me in the habit of it ? "
The Friar made no answer to this ; he moved
nearer the window and remarked, ** Angelo Poli-
ziano died this morning."
" Ah ! " A half -breath parted the young man's
full, pale Ups, and a deeper look of sadness troubled
the smooth calm of his gentle features. Poliziano
was a name nearly as brilliant as his own, a man
who had also been present at il Magnifico's death-
bed. It seemed as if all the friends of the old
dynasty were following that dynasty's fate.
" No one to-day will remember Pohziano/'
said Giovanni, following out his thoughts ; " and
no one would remember Pico — if I were to die
to-day." He added instantly, turning his head
towards the Friar, " Save only you, Fra Girolamo."
Savonarola approached his chair and looked
down at him with deep, sparkHng eyes.
*' Are you very ill? " he asked earnestly.
The young Prince smiled sweetly up at him.
" I am dying," he said.
Fra Girolamo was startled ; he lifted his right
hand and let it fall on his heart.
" I received the viaticum this morning," said
Pico della Mirandola. ** I have been surprised by
death . . . too soon. ... I would have died a
THE YELLOW INTAGLIO
Friar, and I would have died before I heard yonder
army crossing the Arno."
Savonarola still did not speak ; his dark face
was stained by a dusky flush of pain. He loved
this beautiful young man who was so devoted
and humble a follower of his doctrines — this prince
whom neither great birth, great gifts, great fortune
nor great praise had spoiled, and he hoped that he
would not die. It was a marvellous thing if he,
broken and ill, was to be spared and this youth
to be taken in the flower of his days.
" Oh, what have I done with my life ! "
whispered Giovanni, and the tears sparkled in
his long clear eyes.
'' Are you at peace ? " asked the Friar abruptly.
" Nay, not quite at peace, for I love the things
of this world and cannot wholly forget them, even
while every breath I draw brings me nearer the
Judgment of God."
The Friar looked at him earnestly,
" Why should you die, Giovanni ? I think you
" No ; death entered my chamber this morning
and is here now, waiting his time."
" Should I bring your friends or your
physician ? "
" Let me die alone," answered Giovanni. " I
have been too much in crowds all my life."
" You have no great sins to answer for," re-
turned the Friar. " You need not be afraid to
appear before God, Conte."
" I am not afraid," replied the young man
faintly. " But I am very loth to leave the world,
and that troubles me."
A light of enthusiasm and joy sprang into the
Friar's eyes. He clasped his thin, nervous hands
" Could I but have brought you within the
walls of St. Mark's — into that great peace where
the spirit of St. Antonine still dwells, where it is
indeed Hke Heaven for the great company of
angels painted by Fra Beato Angelico that beam
from the walls ! "
" Alas ! " said the Conte della Mirandola ;
'' such joy is not for me ! "
Clouds had crept over the perfect blue ; faint
silver veils they were, and a pale rain descended
and a low wind rose, stirring the boughs of the
cypresses and the arras hanging before the houses.
Still could be heard the shouting, the tramp,
the jostle of arms, the running to and fro, the tap
of the drums, the whistle of the pipes.
And Pico della Mirandola could not close his
ears to these sounds ; he was thinking more of
Florence than of God, and because of this the
tears ran down his cheeks.
The Friar seemed to guess his thoughts.
" Florence is in God's hands, and I am his
instrument to preserve her people."
Giovanni took his eyes from the rain and the
cypresses and the soft grey sky, and looked at the
" Can you preserve Florence against a Borgia
Pope and a French Conqueror ? " he whispered.
THE YELLOW INTAGLIO
"As God's lieutenant, I can," said Fra Giro-
lamo in a firm and splendid voice.
Giovanni closed his eyes.
" I must forget Florence," he answered. " I
must forget the world."
He drew the yellow intagho from his finger
and, still with his eyes closed, dropped it on the
floor ; it rolled away against the wall.
With slow movements he unwound the chain
from his neck and cast that down too.
Then he opened his eyes.
" Bury me in your holy and humble habit,"
he asked. " I have longed to wear it in life,
and in death maybe I might be thought not un-
worthy—and lay me in St. Mark's Church."
"Giovanni, both these things will I do— yet
I still think that you will not die."
The Prince shook his head and called one of
his pages, who came with his eyes red from weeping
for this sickness of his master.
And Giovanni bade the boy take away the
figure of Tanagra and all the heathen vanities of
the room and bring him the crucifix above the bed.
Sadly the youth obeyed, and when he brought
the crucifix Giovanni clasped it gladly in his two
slim white hands and pressed it to his heart, mur-
muring some prayers in his throat.
The rain drifted in through the open window,
a shght, sweet spray, and the perfumes of the
chamber were lost in the freshness of it. Giovanni
gazed at the lightly blowing clouds and the dark
tops of the cypresses stirring against them, and he
tliouglit that these trees were like souls — rooted
to the earth, yet striving to be free, bending and
moaning in their efforts heavenwards.
" Will you not rest in your bed ? " asked Fra
Girolamo, for he saw a slow pallor coming over
the young man's face.
" No," said Giovanni ; '' but out of your great
goodness, pray for me now."
And Savonarola knelt down and began to
recite the penitential psalms in a low but strong
And Giovanni Pico listened, but there was a
languor and a weakness in his heart and in his
mind, and he began to think of spring flowers,
white and scented ; of long galleries, cool with
shade, looking into square courtyards full of
orange trees with a fountain in the centre ; of
heathen statues, broken and white against a
background of ilax and laurel ; of the sea heated
by the sun and sparkling with violet and blue ;
of engraved gems, yellow, tawny and orange ; of
alabaster heads of women, tinted faintly on the
cheeks and lips and gilded in the hair-net. And
none of these things were of Heaven, yet they
occupied the whole of Giovanni Pico's thoughts,
and he forgot the crucifix in his slack hands ; he
forgot the Friar reciting the psalms ; he forgot
the army passing without, and his spirit turned
backwards to the delights of dead springs and
The Friar continued praying.
Giovanni closed his eyes ; he thought that he
THE YELLOW INTAGLIO
was walking by a fountain round which httle close
violets grew beneath their leaves, and that a woman
in a long green gown was plucking these violets
and giving them to him till his hands were over-
full, and the little flowers fell down in a shower
on the surface of the water of the fountain and
floated there above the reflection of the blue sky ;
and he stretched out his hands to regain them,
and as he did so he noticed that his hands were
bare, and with a cry he started up, crying, " Where
is my intaglio ring ? " And the crucifix fell to
Fra Girolamo picked up the holy symbol, and
his glance was red with bitter fire.
" What are your thoughts in this hour ? " he
cried. " Do you still dream of the lusts and
pleasures of the world ? "
Giovanni bent his head and wept.
" Speak to me of God," he whispered. " I
am a great sinner."
Savonarola placed the crucifix again in his
hands, and now he grasped it so hard that the
sharp edges of it entered his flesh, and at the pain
he groaned, and was glad, for he felt his mind
quickened with thoughts of God. Resolutely he
drove all soft and beautiful images from him — all
memories, all philosophies and learning, and they
faded like snow before fire in front of the awful
visage of God that began to rise slowly and terribly
before Giovanni Pico.
The world turned the colour of dark smoke,
and One with a long spear of living flame
strode across the Heavens calling Judgment,
and there was a drum beating and a trumpet
He thought that he heard the voice of Lorenzo
whispering in Hell, and he tried to lift his head to
look for his friend, but it was so heavy that it
would not move, and he cried out —
" There is a great change in him," said Fra
Girolamo, rising from his knees. " Surely he is
The cypress trees shook in the veil of the rain
and the low clouds sailed more swiftly above the
pink-fronted houses. Steadily the French knights
went past the street, and the chamber was full
of the sound of their armour and horses ; but
Giovanni Pico was in darkness, labouring up
He rose up from his chair and stood erect a
moment, the pale Hght of the fading afternoon
clear on his blood-red gown and his fair locks
and the dark crucifix he held, as with blind eyes
he stared across the room.
" Death is terrible," he said. He fell on his
knees. " Friar, death is terrible." He fell on
his face. " Death is very terrible."
They raised him up and laid him on his bed in
the shadow, and as they lifted him his crimson
gown fell apart and showed his striped hose and
his pearl embroidered garters and the cross-work
of jewels on his shoes ; and his bed was very rich
and lovely and carved with little dancing figures
of fauns ; and Fra Girolamo was grieved that he
THE YELLOW INTAGLIO
should die amid all this vanity, and prayed heartily
to the Lord to forgive it. Then he bethought him
that the Prince had wished to die in the habit of
his own order, and feeling assured that he was
yet many hom's off death, he bid the pages
watch by their master and left them to go him-
seK to the convent of St. Mark to fetch a friar's
Giovanni Pico lay very still ; his face was white
and fallen and his eyes closed. The two boys
looked at him and whispered together ; they
greatly loved their master, and they did not love,
though they feared, Fra Girolamo.
One of them tip-toed out of the room and
brought back the figure of Tanagra ; the other
took from a press a lustre dish of peaches and late
white roses opening on to golden hearts, and took
them to his master, who was muttering prayers
with a feeble voice.
The boy held up the dish and said softly : " My
noble lord, do not grieve so at what the Friar says,
for surely Heaven is beautiful as Tuscany when
the blossoms come out, and there is a pleasant
company there seated on the grass and plaiting
roses into crowns while God walks among them,
very splendid and gentle."
Giovanni opened his eyes and saw the flowers
and fruit and smelt the rich perfume of them and
faintly smiled ; then he saw the figure of Tanagra,
and his smile deepened, and all the world rushed
round him again.
*' There is great comfort in these things," said
the second page ; " and wherefore should a Prince
die like a poor Friar ? "
He picked up the long chain Giovanni had
flung down and brought it to the bed.
** My ring," said the dying man : " the yellow
They found it where it had spun away against
the wall, and tenderly brought it to him and
slipped it on his finger, and he looked at it,
Then one of them fetched a psalter, illuminated
in colour and gold, with knobs of turkis on the
cover, and put that in his right hand ; and the
other brought a casket showing a painting of
Venus and Adonis on the lid and opened it,
and from it took long locks of fair and dark hair
that had once belonged to all the women Giovanni
Pico had loved.
This casket he laid on the bed, and Giovanni
looked at it ; and God receded very far away again.
*' What are those bells ? " he asked.
" King Charles is being received in the Duomo
by the Signorie, my lord."
Pico della Mirandola moved his pale lips
" I hope Piero Capponi will know how to — •
deal with — these French — I hope — Fra Girolamo
will save Florence — I wish Lorenzo had lived "
He lifted the yellow ring to his cheek and fell,
as they thought, asleep.
But when Fra Girolamo returned with the
humble robe of a brother of St. Mark's, Pico della
THE YELLOW INTAGLIO
Mirandola was dead amid his vanities, with the rare
intaglio on his finger.
And Savonarola used no word of reproach, but
permitted him to be buried in the friar's habit
and in the Church of St. Mark.
pKIKTED BT WILLIAM CLOWES ASD SDKS, LIMITED, LONDOK AND BECCLES.